Tension grows within United Daughters of the Confederacy over Wilmington confederate statue ownership

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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The Wilmington City Council decided to permanently remove two confederate statues from downtown Wilmington.

The vote came after a request from the United Daughters of Confederacy, who the city said owns the statues.

Last month, the president of Cape Fear 3, a local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, sent a letter to the city that the organization owned the statues and requested possession of them.

However, several members from the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans wrote letters to the city attorney this week, saying the statues in downtown Wilmington belong to the city and should be put back in their original place.

The majority of the city council believes, with their records and research, the organization, not the city, owns the statues.

“The organization that owns them will place them somewhere where they will be protected and they will be able to enjoy them to whatever extent they want,” said city councilman Kevin O’Grady. “So, they aren’t going away, it’s just that they won’t be on a public property anymore, which as far as we can tell from our records is all that was ever agreed to is that they could be placed in the streets.”

But city councilman Charlie Rivenbark said that given the effort the city has put into maintaining the statues, they should remain with the city.

“We’ve been the custodian of them, we’ve repaired them, we’ve taken care of them,” Rivenbark said. “All those things to me get up to the fact that at some point we had ownership of them.”

Sister station WECT reached out to multiple members of the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, as well as the president who sent the letter, and has not heard back.

The city attorney’s office released the following statement:

“City of Wilmington staff performed a thorough review of city records and researched the legal matters concerning objects of remembrance. The city stands by its decision to enter into a valid and binding agreement with CF3 and will continue to abide by its terms.”

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