By WECT Staff | June 18, 2020 at 2:38 PM EDT – Updated June 19 at 12:10 AM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Wilmington attorney Gary Shipman joined 60 other legal professionals Wednesday to rally elected officials for the removal of Confederate monuments across North Carolina.
In a letter to lawmakers, the group calls for the immediate removal of Confederate monuments from important civic spaces in North Carolina because, “These displays are inextricably tied to secession, slavery, and white supremacy.”
The letter references a view acknowledged on UNC Chapel Hill’s website that the statues glorify Confederacy and that prominent, government-maintained Confederate monuments are at odds with the federal Constitution.
“Continuing to maintain them on state grounds, we contend, is a violation of both the North Carolina constitution and the United States Constitution,” Shipman says. “It is not some impulsive reaction to the social events of the day. This issue has been well-studied and it is well-supported not only by the Constitutions but by precedent of the United State Supreme Court.”
Despite an argument that taking down Confederate memorials is prohibited by the 2015 “monuments law”, a law the group urges the General Assembly to repeal, members urge the State to comply with state and federal Constitutions and anti-discrimination laws.
If there is opposition to permanent removal, the group suggests immediate relocation to storage. Shipman says the argument that the statues are a part of history is weak.
“Statues are not part of our history. History is part of our history,” Shipman says. “The civil war is part of our history. Statues were erected after that historical event had taken place. Statues can be preserved for people who want to look at them but they can’t be there to be so conspicuous on state grounds that what they stand for and what they stood for when they were erected as a constant reminder to those who may see them that they believed slavery was a concept worth dying for and were erecting these statues in honor of that.”
The letter is addressed to Governor Roy Cooper, Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi Hamilton, Historical Commission Chair David Ruffin, North Carolina State Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and Democratic Leaders Dan Blue and Darren Jackson.
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