North Carolina Sues to Remove Confederate Monument Honoring Slaves

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Residents in Tyrrell County, North Carolina, have initiated a federal lawsuit to remove a Confederate monument inscribed with the words “in appreciation of our faithful slaves.”

The Concerned Citizens of Tyrrell County lodged the lawsuit in the Eastern District of North Carolina, arguing that the monument breaches the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by conveying a “racially discriminatory message.” The monument features a Confederate soldier atop a pedestal and bears the inscription, “In appreciation of our faithful slaves.”

“This is sort of the only monument in the country on public land that textually endorses slavery,” Jaelyn Miller, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told CNN.

The lawsuit claims that the monument promotes a “pro-slavery message and a pro-Confederate message.” Consequently, the groups argue that the monument “incite(d) racial hostility” and jeopardizes the plaintiffs’ safety in Tyrrell County.

It also contends that the monument implies the belief that “Black people who were enslaved in Tyrrell County preferred their slavery to freedom” and “communicates, on behalf of local government, the idea that Tyrrell’s institutions regard Black people’s rightful place as one of subservience and obedience.”

Installed outside the Tyrrell County courthouse in 1902, the monument’s placement was deliberate, according to Ian Mance, another attorney for the group.

“It was put up in the front yard of what was soon to be the Tyrrell County Courthouse, which opened a few months later, to communicate to people that members of the Black community could not expect to get justice inside of that courthouse,” Mance said.

Earlier this month, a North Carolina appeals court unanimously upheld a ruling that kept a Confederate monument outside a different courthouse in place. A 2015 state law restricts when an “object of remembrance” like a military monument can be relocated.

“Indeed, in many courthouses and other government buildings across our State and nation, there are depictions of historical individuals who held certain views in their time many today would find offensive,” Court of Appeals Chief Judge Chris Dillon wrote in the majority opinion.

Annabella Rosciglione
Annabella Rosciglione
Breaking News Reporter. Annabella is a graduate of UW-Madison where she worked at the Daily Cardinal reporting on Wisconsin politics.

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