RALEIGH, N.C-- A historical commission in North Carolina has decided to create a separate group to study whether the state should move three Confederate memorials from the grounds of the old capitol to a Civil War battlefield 50 miles (80 kilometers) away.
The new commission will study the state law that only allows monuments to be moved to places of similar honor, prominence and visibility. The group will provide the North Carolina Historical Commission with the pros and cons of moving the statues.
The Historical Commission will review the study in April.
Gov. Roy Cooper asked the Historical Commission to approve moving three Confederate memorials to the Bentonville Battlefield, south of Raleigh. Republicans lawmakers then suggested there would be lawsuits if the memorials were moved.
Commission member David Ruffin said Friday the group is not ignoring the issue, but as wants to decide it carefully outside of the current controversy nationwide about Confederate statues.
PREVIOUS: North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger has called upon Gov. Roy Cooper to withdraw a petition to remove three Confedereate monuments from the State Capitol grounds, calling it an “unlawful request.”
On Sept. 8, the state Department of Administration petitioned the state’s Historical Commission to removed the monuments.
A 2015 state law prevents the removal of Confederate monuments on public property without legislative approval and severely limits their relocation.
The Historical Commission is slated to meet Friday and discuss the request.
PHOTOS: Confederate Monuments, Statues From Around NC
The petition asks the monuments be moved to the Bentonville Battlefield site in Johnston County. In order for the monuments to be moved, a letter to the State Historic Preservation Officer is required as well as an application to the Raleigh Historic Development Commission.
The monuments are on a Raleigh-designated historic area.
Thursday, Berger sent Cooper a letter in which he calls the governor’s request nothing more than “political theater” and “selective outrage.”
“Attempting to rewrite history is a fool’s errand, and those trying to rewrite history unfortunately are likely taking a first step toward repeating it,” Berger writes.
Cooper’s request came in the days after a Confederate monument was torn down by protesters in Durham. The governor penned an op-ed make it clear he wanted all Confederate monuments removed from state properties.
“I am curious why you want to move a monument to regular North Carolinians who died during the Civil War (most of whom did not own slaves),” Berger writes.
Berger’s letter lists out the three statues on the capitol’s grounds and describes them not as Confederate monuments, but as statues representing North Carolinians involved in the Civil War.
Berger then asks Cooper why he is not asking for the removal of statues representing Democratic North Carolina leaders such as Govs. Charles Aycock and Zeublon Vance, and President Andrew Jackson.
Aycock was a white supremicist, while Vance was a Confederate colonel.
Jackson removed Native Americans from North Carolina as part of the “Trail of Tears.”
“This selective outrage is one of the reasons your push to keep monuments in the headlines seems to be more political theater than a principled stand. It smacks of insincerity,” Berger writes.
Berger then says the Historical Commission doesn’t have the power to remove the statues and that any such move would be shot down in court.
The Historical Commission will meet Friday to discuss the ongoing controversy surrounding the monuments.