Gaston Co. seeking citizens to join group discussing future of Confederate monument at courthouse

Gaston Co. seeking citizens to join group discussing future of Confederate monument at courthouse
The Gaston County Freedom Fighters held a protest Tuesday night. (Source: N/A)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Commissioners in Gaston County are looking for citizens willing to join a group discussion on the future of a Confederate monument.

At the request of Gaston County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tracy Philbeck, County Commissioner Tom Keigher will form a “Council of Understanding” to discuss the future of the Confederate monument currently sitting in front of the Gaston County Courthouse.

Keigher will assemble a panel of 12 individuals - six from each side of the debate - who are “willing to sit down and discuss the issue in good faith.”

Each county commissioner will appoint one person to the council, then Keigher and Philbeck will select the remaining six, officials say.

They hope the group will create a recommendation to deliver to the Board of Commissioners

“It’s my hope that through research, study, then debate, a vote will be taken and we’ll submit that decision to the board,” Keigher said.

Those who wish to be considered for the position should contact Commissioner Keigher at Tom.Keigher@GastonGov.com.

Those applying will need to include their name, contact information, their stated position on the monument and availability to meet for several mid-day meetings at the County’s Administration Building, located at 128 W. Main Avenue in Gastonia.

The news comes after protests for the Black Lives Matter movement re-ignited the debate over confederate monuments.

In 1912, the statue of a private in the Confederate Army was dedicated at the former Gaston County Courthouse. In 1998, it moved to the new courthouse where it still stands today. The monument also sits along Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and across from a statue of the Civil Rights leader.

A petition was recently started to move the statue from the courthouse.

According to the county, the issue was brought to commissioners in 2015 and again in 2017. It is now being brought up for a third time in 2020.

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