DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says Confederate monuments "should come down" and wants the legislature to repeal a law preventing state and local governments from removing them permanently and limiting their relocation.
"These monuments should come down." - Governor Roy Cooper pic.twitter.com/6n0tW5vqBS— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) August 16, 2017
In a message posted Tuesday on the website Medium, Cooper said North Carolina, "Cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery."
The Democratic governor says Civil War history doesn't belong in "a place of allegiance on our Capitol grounds." There are three such monuments around the old Capitol in Raleigh, along with dozens across the state at county courthouses.
The Republican-controlled legislature would have to repeal the 2015 law restricting the removal of monuments. Cooper says he's also asked state officials to determine costs and logistics for removing Confederate monuments from state property. His office issued a news release later Tuesday repeating the governor's comments.
His remarks came just days after violent clashes erupted at a rally by white nationalists who were protesting the pending removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. In response to that violence, a group of protesters toppled a Confederate monument in Durham, North Carolina, on Monday.
In another major development, Tuesday deputies arrested the woman who climbed a Confederate statue and tied the rope that was used to tear it down.
During a news conference Tuesday, Takiyah Thompson identified herself as the woman who climbed the statue in Durham. She said her actions were justified because Confederate statues represent white supremacy.
After the news conference ended, sheriff's deputies took her away in handcuffs. It wasn't immediately clear what charges she faced, but the sheriff said earlier in the day that those responsible for tearing down the statue would face felony charges.
On Monday night, Thompson climbed a ladder, attached the rope, and people on the ground pulled on it to tear the bronze statue of a Confederate soldier from its pedestal. After it fell, some began kicking the statue, while others took photos standing or sitting on it. The protest was in response to violence and a death at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.
The NC Sons of Confederate Veterans released the following statement:
The North Carolina Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans decries remarks made by Governor Roy Cooper that monuments in memory of veterans across the state should be removed. Cooper’s decision to speak in such a manner and to disregard the contributions of people who made this state what it is today dismays and angers us tremendously.
This week in particular, the brave Tarheels who served in the Confederate armed forces during the War Between the States have been wrongly defamed and dishonored. Their memory has been tarnished by the media, violent mobs, and opportunistic politicians despite the fact that they fought for their homes and families in their struggle against an oppressive government. Sentiments that the mob now ironically adopt as their own.
Cooper’s words have endorsed and emboldened those who have no respect for our public property and doubtless he will wryly smile as the mob pulls down more monuments in defiance of law and order. Accordingly, our organization will offer rewards up to $5,000 for information leading to arrests and convictions in future incidents where our government fails to act.
Those who do not see this as just the beginning are willfully ignorant. Cooper and his supporters will start with Confederate monuments and will soon be tearing down any and every historical reference that offends their bigoted sensibilities until the very foundation of our nation is wiped from the face of the earth.