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Rocky Mount Officially Approves Removal Of Confederate Monument

Richard Phillips
North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

Rocky Mount has approved the removal of a Confederate statue that has stood for more than a century.

CBS 17 reports that the Rocky Mount City Council approved the removal on Monday night, confirming a 6-1 council vote taken last week. The statue has stood at the edge of Battle Park since 1917.

The vote follows several days of protests in North Carolina and across the country against racism and police brutality. The demonstrations were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer jammed his knee into Floyd’s neck.

Since Floyd's death, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has ordered the removal of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue from the city of Richmond. The city's mayor has also announced plans to remove other Confederate monuments from the city. On Monday, however, a judge in Richmond issued a temporary injunction blocking the removal of the Lee statue.

A city spokesperson for Rocky Mount said one council member, W.B. Bullock of Ward 6, voted against the removal because he wants clarity on the legal ramifications. But all other council members voted yes.

The majority of people who showed up at the council meeting voiced support for the statue's removal.

“The monument is a testament to white supremacy and it doesn’t need to be in our city,” said resident Cooper Blackwell, the son of councilman Reuben Blackwell.

According to CBS 17, Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson said that if a tiebreaker was needed in the vote, he would have voted for the statue to be removed.

Elsewhere in North Carolina, a committee in Durham sent a letter Monday to city and county leaders asking for the removal of the Confederate statue base on Main Street, according to a CBS 17 report. The base used to have a statue of a Confederate soldier standing on it, but protesters toppled it in 2017, following a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that turned violent, killing a woman named Heather Heyer and injuring 19 other people.

"All that we have seen and, in particular what the black citizens of Durham have experienced in terms of the white supremacy and the legacy of white supremacy and racism, it’s time for that base to be removed," Robin Kirk, the co-chair of Durham City-County Committee on Confederate Monuments and Memorials, told WRAL.

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Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
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