GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A commissioner-appointed group of community members has voted in favor of relocating a Confederate statue located outside the Gaston County courthouse.
After three meetings, this group, officially named as the ‘Council of Understanding’ voted 7 to 5 to relocate the statue.
The group will now deliver this recommendation to the Gaston County Board of Commissioners for review.
The statue has been a hot button topic for weeks as some community members have demanded it be moved, while others want it to stay where it is.
The ‘Council of Understanding’ and is made up of 12 community members, appointed by different commissioners.
It will ultimately be up to the Board of Commissioners on what to do with the statue. But first they put together this group from different backgrounds and experiences to discuss what should happen to the statue and make a recommendation on what to do.
The Council of Understanding’s recommendation will now be delivered to the Gaston County Board of Commissioners for their review and potential action by the Council of Understanding chairman, Commissioner Tom Keigher. Keigher was a non-voting member.
The Board of Commissioners meets next on July 28th.
Some of the members in the majority, following the vote, made recommendations to the Board of Commissioners to potentially donate the monument to a private organization, such as the statue’s original owner – the United Daughters of the Confederacy or the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Officials say the process evoked some heated discussion at times.
James Muhammad said the back and forth arguments about the questions of the history surrounding the statue didn’t resolve the hurt some members of the community still feel.
“This is not what brings our community together,” Muhammad said of the statue.
Council member Jim Stewart – one of the five who ultimately voted to keep the statue in place – recommended a course of action that included modifying the statue to make it representative of veterans of all wars, and removing the Confederate markers from the statue’s base.
You can read the law which guides the removal and relocation of monuments here.