Petition to remove Confederate statue in Pitt County to be presented at board meeting

Published: Aug. 14, 2017 at 7:24 PM EDT
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The removal of a Confederate statue at the Pitt County Courthouse will be a topic of discussion at a Commissioner's Meeting Monday night.

A petition, which currently has 1,400 supporters as of Monday morning, calling for the removal of the statue will be presented to the Pitt County Board of Commissioners.

Commissioner Glen Webb wrote on his Facebook page, "we welcome any speakers to come and address the Board as long as the comments are constructive and respectful."

He adds, "as always, we are there to listen, but there will be no action on the issue."

That's because of a 2015 state law that prevents local municipalities from removing or altering historic monuments without state lawmakers' approval.

Governor Roy Cooper has recently urged lawmakers to repeal this law.

If the Confederate statue at the Pitt County Courthouse does come down, it could end up at one property that's not seeking to remove its monuments.

Beauvoir Museum is the historic waterfront home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Officials with the museum issued a statement this week saying it welcomes any unwanted Confederate statues to become a part of its historical narrative.

The statement reads that "by expressing our desire for these monuments, we are in no way defending or condoning slavery. Our core mission is to educate and commemorate the ideals of our rich heritage as southern Americans."

The Beauvoir's Executive Director says the museum still has universal appeal and would be the perfect place for the statues to land.

Meanwhile, a counter petition has been circulating in Pitt County, asking to protect the Confederate monument outside of the Pitt County Courthouse from being removed. That petition currently has 519 supporters.

The Commissioner's Meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Pitt County Office Building on 1717 W 5th Street.


A petition calling for the removal of a Confederate statue at the Pitt County Courthouse has surpassed its goal of 1,000 signatures.

Wednesday morning there were 1,072 signatures on the petition.

The statue was dedicated in 1914 and says it was, "Erected by the people of Pitt County in grateful remembrance of the courage & fortitude of her Confederate Soldiers."

ECU student Kristoffer Rixon started the petition after protests in Charlottesville turned deadly.

"You have these relics and monuments that commemorate and celebrate the legacy of the Confederacy and the people who fought to preserve slavery and to be quite honest a betrayal to civilized ideals," said Rixon.

Rixon plans to present the petition to the next Pitt County Commissioners meeting which is Monday evening.

Meanwhile, a counter petition to keep the statue where it is has been started. "The statue has been a fixture at the courthouse for a very long time, and does not need to be disturbed on the whim of a few," wrote petition organizer Chris Hardee.

County commissioners actually have little say in removing the statue since state lawmakers passed a 2015 law that says any removal has to be approved by them.

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Residents in the east are reacting to the deadly violence in Charlottesville over the weekend and now there is an online petition asking for the removal of the Confederate Soldiers statue at the Pitt County Courthouse.

The statue was dedicated in 1914 and says it was, "Erected by the people of Pitt County in grateful remembrance of the courage & fortitude of her Confederate Soldiers."

The petition on says, "We, the residents of Greenville, submit that the time has come for the removal of the Confederate statue at the courthouse. It is time to take immediate action to remove this monument to slavery, sedition and racial oppression. Additionally, it is our assertion that this statue subverts and undermines our core principles of liberty and justice for all. It is unconscionable that anyone going to the courthouse, a place promising equal justice for all, should be forced to do so under a shadow of injustice and suppression. The statue was dedicated in 1914, which that date itself should be reason enough as to why it is time for our community to move forward and leave the confederate memorabilia to museums and not in public spaces. We stand in solidarity with #Charlottesville and those who were injured and/or killed by white supremacists that marched on the city. We appeal to Pitt County Commissioners to outline and commit to a process for the timely and definitive removal of this monument."

Organizers plan to express their concerns to the Pitt County Commissioners at their August 21st meeting.

Meantime, people continued to react Monday to the weekend of violence and the comments by President Trump.

On Monday, following criticism that he didn't do it over the weekend, President Trump called out the KKK, neo-Nazi's, and white supremacists.

Third District Republican Congressman Walter Jones said, 'I wished the president had done that soon after the event, but he didn't, but at least he did that today."

Republican U.S. Senator Richard Burr of NC said, "Had the president specifically targeted a group that was intent on carrying out violence this would not be a story today."

And the story is about the violence, and for Pitt County resident Elmer Cole, It's about who's to blame for the violence that left two troopers and a counter protester dead.

Cole says, "The people of Charlottesville is responsible for this."

Cole, who fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars says the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue should not have been brought up to Charlottesville's council.

Cole says, "After all these years, they should have kept their mouth shut and left the statue."

But the removal of Confederate statues across the country is becoming more common.

Pitt County NAACP President Calvin Henderson says, "It can happen because there is a statute on the Pitt County Courthouse and there's no doubt this could trigger off action all over the country."

Henderson says he's disturbed by the blatant bigotry and racism in Charlottesville.

He says, "This 2017 we need to be moving forward not backwards. This is a step backwards when you see this type of action, to allow these extreme organizations to come in with that type mentality."

Residents in the east say they want to stand up against the violence and hatred. Tuesday there's a vigil planned for 7:00 p.m. at the Town Common in Greenville, one Wednesday night at Festival Park in Washington at 8:30 p.m and another one at the Pitt County Courthouse this Friday at 6:00 p.m.