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Graham Confederate monument to stay in place; protesters arrested outside commissioner's meeting

Protesters want the statue removed, but county commissioners say state law prevents them from relocating it.

GRAHAM, N.C. — The Confederate monument in Graham will stay in place, for now, Alamance County commissioners decided in a meeting on Tuesday morning. 

The meeting was met with tense moments outside of the county building and sheriff's office. Authorities took four protesters into custody. Their charges range from Trespassing, Resisting an Officer, Assault, and Misdemeanor Riot. Many were out there protesting the number of COVID-19 cases at the Alamance County Jail. 

The county's attorney said further historical research determined the Graham statue is owned by Alamance County and sits on county property.

"On May 16, 1914 it was presented to the county, was accepted by the county, and it sits on county property," he explained.

However, officials said it still cannot be moved due to a North Carolina law, because county governments must follow state law.  

"In North Carolina, we’re not a home rule state. County government is obliged to follow state law, we don’t have any law other than that."

The 2015 North Carolina general statute 100-2.1 states that an object of remembrance on public property may not be permanently removed and may only be relocated under circumstances set forth in law. 

"If you want to move it to a location other than where it sits it must be permanently relocated at a site of similar prominence, honor, visibility, and access that are within the boundaries of the county," he stated in regards to the law. 

That means it couldn't be moved to a more secluded space like a museum or cemetery.

County officials say the general assembly would need to change the law, and the governor would have to sign off on it in order to move the statue. 

This is a developing story. Stay with WFMY News 2 for updates. 

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At the Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Alamance County leaders will discuss the controversial Confederate monument, which sits outside the Historic Courthouse in the heart of Graham. 

Although meeting details are limited, the discussions surrounding the monument have carried on for months. While many are in support of keeping it up in its current location, hundreds have protested the statue, calling for its removal and relocation.

RELATED: UPS supports calls to relocate Graham Confederate monument

The meeting will start at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, September 8. You can take a look at the full agenda by clicking here.

The Board also plans to formally adopt a new Historic Courthouse facility use policy. According to the county's website, "these guidelines were developed to further support and encourage the free expression of ideas within a safe and protected environment." The policy now requires a permitting process for large, organized gatherings at the courthouse. You can find a link to that permit application here.