GRAHAM, N.C. – After protesters knock down a Confederate statue in Durham, law enforcement officers around the Triad are keeping a closer eye on monuments in their jurisdiction.
In Alamance County, a Confederate statue stands tall in front of the courthouse in Graham. It’s been there since 1914, even after a few attempts to remove it on the local level. Deputies and police say that it has served as a rallying point in the past, but was not the subject of the rallies. Now, officers are concerned the events in Charlottesville and Durham will spread here – so they’re stepping up patrol, and keeping a closer eye on the monument.
“We're not discussing actual plans obviously, but we have had conversations of ‘what-if’ scenarios, just looking at potential scenarios,” said Randy Jones with the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, “It's never really been a hot topic around here. I've been in this area my whole life, and the statue has just always been there.”
Graham’s Police Chief, Jeff Prichard, says they’re working together with Alamance deputies when it comes to the statue after the vandalism in Durham sparked a “heightened awareness.”
“It has been a place where people rally and because of what happened in Durham, we do have some concern,” he said, “I wouldn't say worry, but it does seem across the nation the topic of Confederacy and Confederate monuments have caused a lot of scrutiny.”
The last rally to happen took place in May this year: Confederate supporters got a permit to organize, according to Chief Prichard, and gathered with flags. Five people were arrested.
“We take a neutral position on all these type of activities, our main concern is the protection of lives and property, which is what we're going to do under all circumstances,” said Jones.
Charges for vandalizing or destroying a monument could range from misdemeanors to felonies. The Sheriff’s Office says other issues could include unlawful assembly, felony or misdemeanor riots, and disorderly conduct, but Jones says it’s situational.