Following the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and subsequent of a statue in Durham, North Carolina, Roy Cooper (D), the Governor of North Carolina, released a statement calling on lawmakers to strike down a bill preventing the removal or relocation of Confederate monuments so that all of them can be taken down. He’s that people may get hurt tearing them down unlawfully.
Specifically, the day after protesters tore down a statue honoring Confederate soldiers in Durham, Gov. Cooper released a statement online urging lawmakers to allow for the relocation of Confederate monuments. “The North Carolina legislature must repeal a 2015 law that prevents removal or relocation of monuments. Cities, counties and the state must have the authority and opportunity to make these decisions,” wrote Cooper, who noted that he already “asked the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to determine the cost and logistics of removing Confederate monuments from state property as well as alternatives for their placement at museums or historical sites where they can be studied in context.”
To justify striking down the legislation, he pointed to the fact that people could get hurt trying to illegally tear down the monuments themselves. “My first responsibility as governor is to protect North Carolinians and keep them safe. The likelihood of protesters being injured or worse as they may try to topple any one of the hundreds of monuments in our state concerns me,” Cooper explained. He later added, “and the potential for those same white supremacist elements we saw in Charlottesville to swarm the site, weapons in hand, in retaliation is a threat to public safety.”
By saying this, Cooper is basically asking lawmakers to allow for the relocation of Confederate monuments because people may hurt themselves trying to unlawfully tear it down themselves. His request, however, is completely ridiculous. First, threats to illegally remove the monuments do not justify changing the law. Second, the risk of getting hurt while engaging in an unlawful activity is irrelevant to whether or not the legislation should be struck down.
Cooper also called on lawmakers to repeal a bill protecting motorists who strike protestors. “The North Carolina legislature should [also] defeat a bill that grants immunity from liability to motorists who strike protesters,” he stated.
“That bill passed the state House and remains alive in the Senate. The Senate should kill it. Full stop,” he added, noting, “those who attack protesters, weaponizing their vehicles like terrorists, should find no safe haven in our state.” But this request is equally absurd. People should not be punished for striking someone illegally blocking the road.
In addition to asking lawmakers to make changes to the law, Cooper also spoke out against the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where people protesting the removal of a Confederate monument and counter-protesters attacked one another with a variety of weapons. At one point during the protest-turned-riot, one of the protesters intentionally a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring several others.
“Last weekend, I watched with horror as events in Charlottesville unfolded. Having served as North Carolina Attorney General for 16 years, I am all too familiar with the racism, bigotry and full-out white supremacy that exist in corners of our society. But it was shocking to watch these elements displayed so publicly — venom and hatred shamelessly spewed in epithets,” stated Cooper. “My stomach sank to learn that a peaceful counter-protester had been killed and many others injured as the hatred morphed into violence,” he noted.
After mentioning that conversations about race are “never simple or easy,” but rather, “deeply personal and emotional,” Cooper concluded with a reference to Abraham Lincoln. “As President Lincoln said, we must do this work ‘with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds,’” wrote Cooper, noting, “President Lincoln was on point: we must do what we know is right, and we must do it the right way.”
Hopefully, state lawmakers ignore Cooper’s request to strike down legislation protecting Confederate monuments.