Salisbury group asks city officials to remove Confederate monument

Salisbury group asks city officials to remove Confederate monument

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A organization in Salisbury, who call themselves Salisbury Indivisible, sent a letter to city council asking for the removal of a Confederate monument which is located in the center of the city.

Salisbury Indivisible sent city officials with the Salisbury City Council a request to take down the Fame Confederate monument which is located on West Innes Street.

"Taking action to relocate "Fame" will demonstrate that Salisbury is a forward-looking city invested in diversity and respecting the sensibilities of all its residents" the group said in a email to city officials.

The group asked the city council to relocate the monument to a "museum or a cemetery, where all artifacts of the confederacy belong."

Here is the request Salisbury Indivisible sent to city officials:

Dear Salisbury City Council:
We, Salisbury Indivisible, a grassroots, nonpartisan movement of more than 400 people who have come together to advocate for positive change, request that City Council direct the City Manager to arrange for the removal and relocation of the statue "Fame." We request that the city work swiftly with the private owner to relocate the monument, filing a formal request with the North Carolina Historical Commission if necessary.
Taking action to relocate "Fame" will demonstrate that Salisbury is a forward-looking city invested in diversity and respecting the sensibilities of all its residents. This will also distinguish Salisbury as a leader among North Carolina cities struggling against a state law that limits their rightful power to regulate their communities in their residents' best interests.
"Fame" is not "the angel statue," as many call it. It is "Gloria Victis," meaning "Glory to the Vanquished," which sculptor Frederick Ruckstuhl styled after a bronze of the same name by his teacher Antonin Mercié. Its base is inscribed with the motto of the Confederate States of America. We cannot ignore the fact that it celebrates those who attempted to destroy our country with the aim of preserving the institution of slavery. As Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, said of the notion that the institution of slavery might pass away, "Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition."
Salisbury Indivisible's request to relocate "Fame" is one of more than 100 similar requests by Indivisible chapters across North Carolina to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces. Some argue that removing these monuments is an attempt to rewrite history. But, history was purposefully obscured with the placement of "Fame" and other monuments that cast the Confederacy as a "golden age" and a focus of sentimentality. The brutal facts of slavery are whisked aside to be replaced by a wistful yearning for those days of yore. The Confederacy categorically chose to oppose the principles enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, including the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
"Fame" was placed in the middle of our town during the period of political unrest leading to denial of citizenship and loss of legal rights for all Black North Carolinians and the regime of forced segregation. Today, by championing slavery, this memorial to the Confederacy continues to send the chilling message to any person of color that, in this town, "We wish the war had come out the other way."
It is time for this remembrance of an oppressive and bloody misadventure to move aside. The heart of Salisbury must stop looking back to the 19th century and instead cast its gaze forward to the 21st century and beyond. It is time to stop glorifying the confederacy in Salisbury. City Council should take action to relocate "Fame" to a museum or a cemetery, where all artifacts of the confederacy belong.
Salisbury Indivisible

Maggie Blackwell, who is the Mayor Pro Tem of Salisbury, replied to the request stating that the group gave "compelling reasons for moving the statue to a more appropriate location."

Blackwell said she "questioned" the group's timing, though, she said she supported their request.

"If there is one thing I have learned in eight years of service, it is that nothing happens quickly. With only two months remaining in my tenure, I am certain nothing will happen while I'm on board. I do, however, wish you well in your efforts," Blackwell said when she replied to the group's request.

On Friday, the City of Salisbury released an update about the request:

The issue of relocating the statue "Fame" has been a frequent topic of discussion over the past few years, particularly in light of the tragedies in Charleston, South Carolina and more recently in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In 2015, City Council received public comments about the statue for over two hours, with many people speaking for and against the statue's removal. At the same time a bill was passed by the General Assembly that prohibited local governments from removing or relocating objects of remembrance on public property.
After much discussion and further research, it is our belief that the "Fame" statue does sit on public property, but Innes Street, on which the statue sits, is now a state-maintained street. How much control the North Carolina Department of Transportation exercises over the median is uncertain.
What is clear, however, is that the Hoke Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which is the owner of the statue, was given an easement for the statue and the easement is still in place today.
The State of North Carolina would have to grant permission to the City of Salisbury or the North Carolina Department of Transportation for the statue to be relocated, and the Hoke Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy would have to give up its existing easement, and grant its permission for the statue to be changed in any way.
—W. Lane Bailey, Salisbury City Manager

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