Next chapter in Confederate monument’s history could be written starting Monday

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 4/12/19

PITTSBORO — There’s no action promised, but it certainly appears there will be plenty of discussion.

The monument in downtown Pittsboro honoring Confederate veterans will enter the next phase …

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Next chapter in Confederate monument’s history could be written starting Monday

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Posted

PITTSBORO — There’s no action promised, but it certainly appears there will be plenty of discussion.

The monument in downtown Pittsboro honoring Confederate veterans will enter the next phase of its history Monday when the Chatham County Board of Commissioners will hear a presentation about the legal options for removing the statue and its pedestal.

The meeting kicks off at 6 p.m. Monday and will be held at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center. It was moved from the Chatham County Historic Courthouse, where the monument sits, because of anticipated “considerable public interest” in the subject, Commissioner Chairman Mike Dasher said in a statement.

Dasher told the News + Record in March that no action is currently planned on the monument, and that no vote or debate is scheduled. But he didn’t rule out action possibly being taken.

“This has been misread as outsiders are coming to tear the monument down or we’re going to have a public debate on the matter,” Dasher said. “Whether the board chooses to take any action based on what they present is going to be up to the board. It’s not anything that the county or the board of commissioners initiated.”

A group calling itself “Chatham For All” will be presenting “nearly 900 signatures of Chatham residents on a petition” on Monday while making a case for the legal removal of the monument, according to a press release published by the group.

“Like many progressive organizations across the South, Chatham For All believes the historical record confirms the intent of placing the statue on public properties was to reinforce white supremacy and bolster the mythology of the Lost Cause, which served to reinforce harsh Jim Crow law, and the resurgence of white-dominated rule in the South,” the statement says. “Chatham For All hopes that the County Commissioners will act swiftly to remove the statue as to avoid the confrontations that have turned violent in other cities.”

The statement was signed by David Delany, Howard Fifer and Mark Barroso. Barroso told the News + Record Monday that the group hopes the discussion ends with the removal of the monument, which they believe is a “symbol of the Jim Crow era.”

“What the United Daughters of the Confederacy do with it is up to them,” he said. “We’re optimistic that people will have an open mind about the purpose and the history of that statue.”

Debra Henzey, the county’s director of community relations, said 20 individuals had signed up to speak during the public comments section of Monday’s meeting, a portion that’s outside the scheduled presentation. The commissioners had not yet decided to cap the time allotted for public comments, usually one hour, Henzey said.

“They may decide to,” she said. “We would encourage people to bring written copies (of their comments).”

She also encouraged those who haven’t signed up yet to arrive at the meeting before 6 p.m. to get on the list.

Dasher said in March that Monday’s meeting is not a debate, it’s simply a presentation.

“They have a right to do that,” he said. “I don’t think the board is afraid to have the conversation, and I certainly have faith and confidence in the Chathamites that I know to be able to have the conversation in a civil way and a way that represents Chatham County well.”

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