GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - The Gaston County Board of Commissioners voted Monday night to remove and relocate the county’s Confederate monument at the courthouse.
Commissioners called a special meeting Monday at 7:45 p.m. at the Gaston County Courthouse on Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
The meeting was open to the public, and included hours of commentsfrom county residents.
The motion to remove and relocate the monument passed on a 6-1 vote.
Board Chairman Tracy Philbeck and Commissioner Allen Fraley co-sponsored a resolution that gifts the monument to the Sons of Confederate Veterans for relocation to private property.
In its place, the resolution states that the County would place a monument to all Gaston County soldiers who have died in the line of duty.
Philbeck said County leaders have heard from individuals on both sides of this issue, and believes the proposal to donate the statue is the best path forward to honor the wishes of both groups.
“We value and cherish our rich history, just as we value our strong County today, with a focus and a commitment centered entirely on our people,” Philbeck said. “We are pleased to come to a resolution of this issue while preserving not only the monument, but our unity as a Gaston people.”
The SCV will have six months to find a new location for the monument – one that will allow for those in the public that wish to view it to continue to have access to the monument. The County, per the proposed agreement, would pay for the costs of the monument’s relocation.
The Confederate monument has sparked controversy for years. The special meeting comes two weeks after a commissioner-appointed group voted in favor of relocating the monument, which is outside the Gaston County Courthouse. The group delivered this recommendation to the Gaston County Board of Commissioners.
Some community members have demanded it be moved, while others wanted it to stay where it is.
It was ultimately up to the Board of Commissioners on what to do with the statue. But first they put together a group, the ‘Council of Understanding’, from different backgrounds and experiences to discuss what should happen to the statue and make a recommendation on what to do.
“State Officials say no to allowing our citizens a vote on the Monument at the Courthouse. I have heard from all sides of this issue and the one constant is people want to be heard,” Philbeck said in a Facebook post. “A majority of the board felt the best way to accomplish this was to petition our local delegation, to allow your voice to be heard via the ballot box.”
You can read the law which guides the removal and relocation of monuments here.