ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WNCN) — Since 1917 a Confederate monument has stood on the edge of Rocky Mount’s in Battle Park, but after years of discussion, the city council has decided it’s been there long enough.
“Whenever you have something that’s impeding progress, impeding thoughts, and proves to be a barrier towards moving forward I think it’s something you need to address,” said Mayor Sandy Roberson.
“The city handled it a lot better than any city in North Carolina, and throughout the country, so I’m proud of my people,” said Lamonti Lewis.
Lifelong Rocky Mount resident Lamonti Lewis drives by the monument every day, and he admits he’s never given it much thought.
“It affects people in different ways,” said Lewis. “To me, it doesn’t really matter. It’s a monument celebrating some that did something, but to me, it’s just a statue.”
While it may be just a statue to Lewis some view it as a symbol of hate and oppression.
“The vote to remove the Confederate monument demonstrates the council’s focus on unifying the community and its commitment to ensuring everyone feels welcome to Rocky Mount,” said Rocky Mount councilman Andre Knight. “This is indeed a historic moment. 103 years this monument has cast a shadow of fear and intimidation over Rocky Mount, one that will never be forgotten.”
Mayor Roberson admits the city may be in for a legal fight prior to removing the monument.
“I’m sure there are going to say that this is contrary to current state law,” said Roberson. “I’m sure there are some there may be a challenge or two, but we can deal with that later.”
For now city leaders are simply trying to figure out their next steps.
“The plan would be to move the monument from its current location to store it in a warehouse with the idea that we’re trying to protect it from vandalism,” said Roberson. “We certainly don’t want to create a touchstone of conflict. We certainly don’t want it vandalized because it’s an emotional issue for a lot of people.”
“It really doesn’t matter to me. I’m pretty sure it’s special to someone. If people like it, and people want it there, just leave it there man. It’s not hurting anybody.”
Since this decision was made during a budget hearing, and not before the full council, a vote still has to be taken during the council meeting on Monday.
Mayor Roberson says he expects the vote to be nearly unanimous.
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