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Enfield mayor calls on Gov. Cooper; Wants probe of threats after monument's destruction

Mondale Robinson
Kate Medley
for WUNC
Commissioners in the small town of Enfield — north of Rocky Mount — recently voted to remove a Confederate monument from a local park. Days later, Enfield mayor Mondale Robinson started livestreaming while he instructed others to bulldoze the statue.

A North Carolina mayor who livestreamed a Confederate monument being knocked down in a town park last month called on the governor Tuesday to investigate and declare a state of emergency after he said he and others received threats.

Town commissioners voted last month to remove the monument, which stood in Enfield’s Randolph Park since 1928, news outlets reported. Days later, Mayor Mondale Robinson posted a video of a front-end loader pushing over the monument. He said the statue was a gift to the town and it is the town’s right to destroy a gift that is no longer relevant.

Enfield is a small, predominantly Black town, north of Rocky Mount.

Since the removal, Robinson and some Black residents said they have received threats that included racial slurs. At a news conference Tuesday, Robinson called on Gov. Roy Cooper to declare a state of emergency and deliver resources to the town to ensure the safety of residents.

"If one believes that Black lives truly matter, then said person has no opposition to our town's simple request for freedom, peace and tranquility from racialized terror,” Robinson said. "Gov. Cooper is required to respond in this space to let folk know that in North Carolina, racism, white terrorism, is not welcome. You can't do that by sitting silent, or playing respectability politics.”

Robinson has received threatening messages online, including emails allegedly from the Ku Klux Klan, he says. Robinson says his town needs more resources to keep residents safe.

“As we stand firm on our constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we need our governor to lock arms with this community, ensuring that our solemn way of life isn’t interrupted by white supremacists,” Robinson said.

At the request of the police chief and the Halifax County district attorney, the State Bureau of Investigation launched an investigation last month into property damage, SBI spokeswoman Angie Grube said. Once the investigation is complete, the file will be submitted to the district attorney, she said.

Meanwhile, Enfield Town Councilmember Bud Whitaker said police Chief James Ayers submitted his resignation, saying his last day in office would be Sept. 17, WRAL-TV reported.

The 10-foot-high monument with a carved Confederate flag was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and dedicated in 1928, honoring Confederate war soldiers and World War I veterans, according to UNC-Chapel Hill. In the ensuing years, inscriptions were added to honor veterans of other wars.

“No longer will Black kids be playing in this park and have to wonder why a Confederate flag is flying because it is not flying in this park anymore. No more Mondays will you wake up and see a Confederate monument in a park,” Robinson said.

WUNC's Celeste Gracia contributed to this report.

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