Posted on January 31, 2019

Confederate Statue Will Go ASAP, City Says, After Protests Proved It Presents Threat to Safety in Downtown Winston-Salem

Wes Young, Winston-Salem Journal, January 31, 2019

Winston-Salem officials say they will remove the Confederate statue downtown sometime after today and without filing any legal notice.

Assistant City Manager Damon Dequenne, citing acts of vandalism and the need for police presence at the statue, declared the Confederate monument a public nuisance Wednesday morning in accordance with state law.

The law gives the city the authority to remove anything determined to “be dangerous or prejudicial to the public health or public safety.”

At the same time Dequenne made his declaration, City Attorney Angela Carmon released a letter sent Wednesday to an attorney representing the United Daughters of the Confederacy, or UDC. The organization had asked the city to delay any action regarding the memorial for 60 days.

Carmon, in her letter, {snip} said the presence of the statue downtown presents such a threat to public safety that the city can “summarily remove the Confederate statue, without filing a lawsuit, and eventually relocate the same to Salem Cemetery.”


“We don’t want an angry group of folks pulling this thing down,” he said. “We don’t want anyone acting on their own account. We don’t want a clash between citizens who want it moved and people who don’t want it in town. The city would want to make sure it is removed in a safe and preservation-minded manner and can be put in another place.”

But Winston Courthouse LLC, the owner of the renovated courthouse property where the statue stands, sent a letter to the UDC on Wednesday saying that recent demonstrations at the statue threaten the peace and comfort of people who live in the apartments in the former courthouse.

As recently as Monday, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines had {snip} worked out a deal with Salem Cemetery to locate the monument there, possibly in a part of the cemetery where Confederate veterans chose to be buried with other veterans in the early years of the 20th century. The cemetery is privately owned.


But Carmon said in her letter Wednesday that pro- and anti-statue activists were guilty of “lapses in good judgment” during an event on Jan. 13 that brought both sides to the vicinity of the statue at the corner of West Fourth and North Liberty Streets.

Carmon said Winston-Salem police learned that one group, not identified, “made a decision to hire armed security personnel” to protect the statue during the event, even though it had been told that city police would provide protection.

Carmon said the hired security people told police they would be armed only with nonlethal weapons, but police told them to leave the area. She said officers were worried that the presence of hired security would make it hard for both the public and police to tell who was who.


The anti-statue protesters were kept on the north side of Fourth Street during the Jan. 13 event, but Carmon, in her letter to the UDC, said that at one point some anti-statue protesters started moving closer to the statue and statue supporters, despite having agreed not to do that.


In her letter, Carmon said that both the NAACP and the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity had asked for calm, and that the work of those groups was “the only reason other protests and demonstrations have yet to occur.”

If city officials follow through, Winston-Salem would be among the first cities in North Carolina to remove a Confederate monument by order of the government.