Winston-Salem Police Up Patrols Amid Statue Vandalism, KKK Rumors

Police in Winston Salem are keeping a close eye on the confederate statue downtown after it was vandalized Friday night.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- Black spray paint still surrounds the lettering on the confederate monument that was vandalized Friday night in downtown Winston-Salem.

A bouquet of flowers lies at the base.

It’s a visual representation of the passion on both sides of the debate over confederate statues.

As tensions heat up on both sides across the state, police in Winston-Salem are keeping a close eye and working to keep the peace.

Officers were stationed around the confederate monument all day on Saturday, with plans to remain there throughout the weekend.

Detectives are also watching social media.

Lt. Steven Tollie with the Winston-Salem Police Department says there were a lot of rumors going around about a possible KKK rally.

None of it was true.

No permit was ever filed for any KKK activity.

"When we have this unusual chatter on social media, we have to plan and make sure our resources are in place in case any of those rumors come to bear fruit,” said Tollie. “Fortunately, everything we have covered today on social media has proven to be incorrect."

Police say there have been small groups of people, both for and against confederate monuments, who have engaged in conversations around the statue.

Tollie says things have remained peaceful so far but police are staying ready just in case.

“We have the resources in place to deal with that type of situation,” said Tollie. “I personally operate on plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

The reason police are being extra vigilant is because they've seen what's happening across the state.

Last week, protestors tore down a confederate statue in Durham.

Then on Thursday night, a prayer vigil in Asheboro turned into a heated debate between groups for and against monuments.

On Saturday, Duke University decided to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.

With tensions rising on both sides, police are staying on high alert.

"Anytime that type of group gathers, you have the potential for problems,” said Tollie. “We make sure we have the resources to deal with should that problem come up."

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines sent the following statement to WFMY News 2 regarding confederate monuments.

I recognize the sensitivity of this issue and I am working on a potential solution that will respect the historical context, but at the same time, not being a constant reminder of the oppression it represents.

 

© 2017 WFMY-TV


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