UDC: Confederate statue 'should not be illegally moved or altered'

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 8/5/19

The Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy has released a statement saying that Chatham County "should not be illegally moved or altered" and that it would be "inappropriate …

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UDC: Confederate statue 'should not be illegally moved or altered'

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The Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy has released a statement saying that the Confederate monument in front of the Chatham County Historic Courthouse "should not be illegally moved or altered" and that it would be "inappropriate that we re-imagine the statue in any way."

The statement, shared with the News + Record late Monday morning is the latest in the saga surrounding the monument, which has been the subject of multiple late-night Chatham County Board of Commissioners meetings. The comments were shared by Barbara Pugh, president of the Winnie Davis Chapter.

According to Pugh, she and Dasher met July 17 regarding a memorandum of understanding between the board and the UDC in which both agreed “to meet, cooperate and work together in good faith” about “reimagining” the monument. After that meeting, it has become the position of the Winnie Davis Chapter — and that of the North Carolina United Daughters of the Confederacy — that the statue should stay where it is.

Pugh wrote that the monument was “a gift to the county and is the property of the county,” and thus is covered under a state law that prohibits the removal, relocation or alteration “in any way” of “a monument, memorial or work of art owned by the State.”

She told the News + Record that the UDC determined the statue belonged to the county via "old historical records, organization records, as well as newspaper accounts, notwithstanding the statement on the south side of the statue carved in granite." The monument's ownership has been a central point of contention in recent months.

“We understand that each person has their personal opinion and position on the future of the statue,” she wrote. “It is our hope that the County Commissioners will publicly state that the statue is protected by law and that any unlawful action toward it will not be tolerated. For many citizens of the county, this would be the ultimate conclusion of our civil discourse to make the statue respected and secure.”

She closed the statement by saying the UDC would “seek legal opinion from a judge” if the commissioners did not make that public statement.

Reached by email, Dasher said he was "disappointed" by the UDC's decision.

"I had hoped we could work together and do something unique, particularly at this time when people are so divided," Dasher said. "I saw this as an opportunity to demonstrate that here in Chatham County we could do it differently. We’ve heard from so many folks insisting the monument is about honoring their veteran ancestors. How then do you oppose making it a more inclusive monument that would honor all veterans?  Obviously it’s about a lot more than that to some, but that’s just not a conversation everyone is ready to have."

Dasher added that there would be more conversation around the monument at the commissioners' August 19 meeting.

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Here is the full statement, sent to Chatham County Board of Commissioners Chair Mike Dasher from Barbara Pugh, president of the Winnie Davis Chapter of the UDC.

Commissioner Dasher:

As a follow-up to our meeting on July 17 regarding re-imagining the Confederate statue, the following statement reflects the position of the Winnie Davis Chapter #259.

Winnie Davis Chapter #259 again states that the Chatham County Confederate statue was a gift to the county and is the property of the county; it is inappropriate that we re-imagine the statue in any way. We feel that the statue is covered under North Carolina’s monument law and therefore should not be illegally moved or altered. 

We understand that each person has their personal opinion and position on the future of the statue. It is our hope that the County Commissioners will publicly state that the statue is protected by law and that any unlawful action toward it will not be tolerated.  For many citizens of the county, this would be the ultimate conclusion of our civil discourse to make the statue respected and secure.

Should such action not be forthcoming from the Commissioners, we should seek legal opinion from a judge.

This opinion of the Winnie Davis Chapter is endorsed by the North Carolina United Daughters of the Confederacy state organization as well.

Barbara Pugh, President

Winnie Davis Chapter #259, UDC

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