LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina city is suing to try to secure authorization to remove a Confederate statue from its downtown.
The city of Lexington filed the lawsuit Monday against Davidson County and a chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, The Dispatch of Lexington reported Wednesday. The lawsuit asks for judgment that the city has the right to remove the statue and seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the return of the statue once it has been taken down.
The downtown property that includes the statue, which was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1905, is owned by Davidson County.
Chuck Frye, attorney for the county, said in a news release that North Carolina law protects the removal of statues and monuments.
“There are very limited circumstances that provide for an exception to the prohibition on removal,” according to the news release. “None of those exceptions apply to the memorial that the (Lexington) City Council seeks to have removed.”
According to the lawsuit, the presence of the Confederate monument “poses an imminent threat to public safety; is endangering lives; is dangerous to and has a detrimental effect on the public health, safety and welfare in the City of Lexington and is injuring and causing discomfort to the community at large.”
The county will be responsible for the cost of removing the statue or, if the city moves it, they will seek reimbursement for that cost, the lawsuit said. After it’s removed, the monument will be returned to either the Robert E. Lee Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy or the county.
An affidavit by Lexington police Chief Mark Sink said the monument has been the focal point of demonstrations that have become increasingly violent. He also said he is fearful that a breaking point leading to a serious incident is possible.
“The wrong comment to the wrong person who has lost patience or another national event surrounding outcries of injustices could be the final act that sets violence in motion,” Sink said.
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