RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – People supporting the removal of the Confederate monuments on the State Capitol grounds returned to the area Monday afternoon as some state lawmakers blasted the handling of the situation over the weekend.
“We’re lucky no one was killed or seriously injured in what happened. And, the governor does have the responsibility of upholding the laws of the state, which means protecting state property and also protecting life. And, there was a complete failure of that on Friday,” said House Speaker Tim Moore (R).
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety did not make anyone available for an interview Monday. Spokeswoman Pamela Walker told CBS17 in an email, “After dark, the crowds grew and the situation escalated again when some individuals returned a second time to violently remove the statue. In working to strategically balance the public’s safety and the safety of the officers, the chief determined it was best to not re-engage on the statue and as a result no one was seriously injured.”
Walker said earlier in the night, one officer suffered a fractured wrist, another had cuts to their hand, while a third officer had to flush their eyes “due to an unknown liquid being thrown in their face.”
“Law enforcement had paint and what is believed to have been urine thrown on them, they also had rocks and frozen water bottles thrown at them,” Walker said.
Moore also said he’s “reassessing” whether to move forward with a bill that would spend $4 million to put signs on the Capitol grounds to provide context for monuments as well as help pay for a new park to commemorate African-Americans in North Carolina.
“We need to make sure that what we’re doing is going to work hand-in-glove with what’s happening with the State Historical Commission. And, what we don’t want to do is go out and spend taxpayer dollars and build something new that’s going to get destroyed,” Moore said, adding the he thinks the bill should wait until next year.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) hasn’t said where the Confederate monuments are being stored or what he wants to do with them long term.
In 2017, he petitioned the state’s Historical Commission to move the three Confederate monuments from the Capitol grounds to the Bentonville Battlefield in Johnston County.
Senate leader Phil Berger (R-26) said the commission didn’t have the authority to grant such a request, citing the 2015 law the legislature passed that outlines how objects of remembrance can be relocated.
The commission decided instead of moving the monuments to instead create new signage to be placed on the Capitol grounds to give more context to the structures and add monuments recognizing African-Americans.
The state Senate passed a bill earlier this month to allocate $2.5 million for the new signage and additional monuments. It also includes a $1.5 million grant for the North Carolina Freedom Monument Project, Inc., for a new park that would be constructed between the state legislative building and the Executive Mansion. That funding is contingent on the group raising at least $1.7 million in additional funding.
In passing the bill, Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) described it as “making good” on a two-year-old promise.
The bill is awaiting a vote in the House, but Moore is now saying it should wait until next year.
“You certainly can’t act on it right now, and I think we need to let the Historical Commission do its work,” Moore said. “I certainly hope that we can find a way to make that happen. That is something I’ve supported.”
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