The Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved a motion Monday night that restated the board’s intent to call for the removal of the “Our Confederate Heroes” in downtown Pittsboro, barring any work by the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to remove it before the November 1 deadline.
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PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved a motion Monday night that restated the board’s intent to call for the removal of the “Our Confederate Heroes” in downtown Pittsboro, barring any work by the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to remove it before the November 1 deadline.
Nine days before the county would declare the monument a “public trespass,” Board Vice Chair Diana Hales made a motion “that the County Manager safely and respectfully have (county staff) remove and securely preserve and store (the monument) until such time as the UDC decides on a more appropriate location.” The motion was approved by a 4-1 vote, with lone Republican Commissioner Andy Wilkie serving as the only board member in opposition.
Board Chair Mike Dasher said prior to the vote — which was the final action of a lengthy meeting and occurred during the commissioner’s comments portion — that he had met with county officials and lawyers representing the UDC. He said the UDC’s representatives had called the meeting but had not shifted on their position.
The UDC has previously said it would be willing to “reimagine” the area around the monument, but would not agree to any alterations.
“It’s just kind of a non-starter,” Dasher said. “I was hopeful that when the meeting was requested that they might get down to some real negotiations, but that wasn’t the case.”
Dasher did not commit to a timeline for the monument’s removal if the UDC does not come to an agreement with the county — he said the November 1 deadline “certainly doesn’t preclude, exclude, include any date for actual removal.”
The evening session of the board meeting started off with competing public comments — a few favoring the commissioners’ action and a couple opposing it. Mike Pool, one of those against removal, said those supporting the monument were “not going away,” while Woods Davis said he wants people to “work together to get our commissioners re-elected.”
Much of the conversation on social media, and public comments at commissioners meetings, has revolved around non-Chatham County residents coming to the county and causing trouble. After the meeting, Woody Weaver of Fuquay-Varina — who was cited for simple affray during a protest and counter-protest in downtown Pittsboro last month — stood outside the courthouse with other flag-wavers and chanted “long live the South” as Dasher and Commissioner Jim Crawford walked to their cars.
“I think that we did a pretty good job of keeping things local,” Dasher said, “right until the time when they called in the Virginia flaggers and ACTBAC NC and League of the South and all these other folks to start raising flags. And sure enough, that brought in counter-protesters that I don’t recognize that are not local.”
Both Hales and fellow Commissioner Karen Howard were escorted out of the courthouse by Chatham County sheriff’s deputies as individuals waved flags.
The meeting also featured a public comment from Robert Butler, who has spoken at meetings several times in support of keeping the monument in place. He said that on Saturday at a protest someone had come up to a black man who was standing with monument supporters and called the man a “g**d*** n*****.” However, when repeating the comment, Butler did not censor n*****, even after Commissioner Karen Howard asked him why he said the full word but censored g**d****. Butler repeated that he was just quoting what was said and did not stop saying n*****.
Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.