Hundreds of protesters face off in Pittsboro over pro-Confederate monument, heritage gathering

Confederate memorial protest
Confederate memorial protest(WNCN)
Updated: Oct. 19, 2019 at 3:54 PM EDT
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PITTSBORO, N.C. (CBS 17) - More than 200 people showed up in downtown Pittsboro Saturday to either oppose or support the Confederate memorial that stands outside the historic courthouse and the history behind it.

Multiple anti-racist/anti-fascist organizations faced off against Confederate heritage and monument supporters in the center of the town.

Multiple organizations on both sides were said to be in attendance, including members of the Democratic Socialists of America, Hillsborough Progressives Taking Action, NC Raise Up, CSA II: The New Confederate States of America, and — according to the Southern Poverty Law Center — members and supporters of the neo-Confederate groups League of the South and the Hiwaymen.

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office and the Pittsboro Police Department were both stationed at the Confederate memorial outside the courthouse in order to monitor the situation as protesters and counter-protesters lined up on either side of East Street.

According to the sheriff’s office, people began to gather at the courthouse around 9 a.m.

By 11:30 a.m., the sheriff’s office estimated that more than 200 people were involved on both sides. Some of the pro-monument supporters were armed with guns, but authorities said they were not spotted on public property with their weapons.

The sheriff’s office said that “based on the numbers” they had seen by 11:45 a.m., that there were more protesters in opposition to the monument than those who were there in support.

According to CSA II’s website, the group was set to hold a Pittsboro Confederate Monument and Heritage Rally at noon.

Around noon, people began to leave the downtown area and spread to nearby streets where groups gathered on opposite sides of the street and continued to protest.

Multiple people have been cited or arrested and charged during actions involving the memorial in the past few weeks.

On Oct. 5, Jessica Lynne Reavis, 40, of Danville, Virginia, was charged with carrying concealed gun and carrying concealed weapon.

Richard Dundas Allen, 43, of Pittsboro, was charged with disorderly conduct.

Thalia Katheria Considnie, 30, of Durham, was charged with disorderly conduct, carrying concealed weapon, and weapons at parades.

All three were released on a written promise to appear and are scheduled to appear in District Court in Pittsboro on at 9 a.m. on Nov. 6.

One week earlier, on Sept. 28, Woody Elvin Weaver Jr., 64, of Fuquay Varina, and Devin Michael Ceartas, 52, of Chapel Hill, were charged with simple affray.

Robert Ronald White Jr., 72, of Siler City, was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct. White received a written promise to appear in court.

Weaver and Ceartas were charged by citation and released at the scene, according to a Pittsboro police news release.

The protests began following an August decision by the Chatham County Board of Commissioners to end a 1907 agreement allowing a Conederate monument to remain outside the historic courthouse in Pittsboro.

“It’s not exclusively homage to soldiers who died, but a constant reminder of the brutality and second class status and political power that the white population had and can exercise over its citizen neighbors with dark skin,” said commissioner Diana Hales.

In a 4-1 vote, board members said the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy had until Oct. 1 to come up with a plan to relocate the statue.

In June commissioners and the UDC signed an agreement to work with the board on a “re-imagining” of the monument that’s dedicated to “Our Confederate Heroes.” However, County Commissioner Mike Dasher said in August that despite signing the agreement, the UDC walked away from discussions about modifying the statue.

Barbara Pugh, president of the Winnie Davis UDC, said she had no comment about commissioners vote, or why the UDC ended talks with them.

“Chatham had a unique opportunity to address this monument in a more productive way than perhaps other counties have had. Certainly, this board has done all that we could ourselves in having that conversation with the United Daughters of the Confederacy. I’m disappointed that they came to the conclusion it was not worth the conversation,” said Commissioner Karen Howard.

No plan was presented to board members by the deadline. As part of the vote, the board said that if no agreement was reached, then the statue will be declared public trespass on Nov. 1.

No arrests had been made during Saturday’s protests as of the early afternoon, the sheriff’s office said.