Simone Jasper, News & Observer, March 29, 2021
A Confederate statue that has sparked contention in this hip, tourist town in the mountains will be destroyed rather than moved to another location or put in storage.
Asheville city leaders have voted to remove the Vance Monument, which honors former Gov. Zebulon Vance, a white supremacist. It has stood since 1897 at a downtown site where slaves may have been sold.
The City Council’s decision paves the way for destroying the 75-foot obelisk — a marked change from plans for other Confederate monuments across the state that are being stored or moved rather than demolished.
The city must approve the way the demolished monument is discarded, according to documents. Parts of the statue can’t be used again in “similar likeness,” and intact pieces from the project can’t be sold or given away.
In Asheville, the City Council took a step toward demolishing the monument after a task force called for its removal, citing concerns about safety, a potential blow to tourism and impacts on people who view it as a symbol of white supremacy.
“The story of Zebulon Vance and the Civil War live on in documents, books and memory institutions like museums and historic sites,” the task force wrote. “Removing the monument is an acknowledgement of our racist history and will allow our community the opportunity to move forward in unity.”
Vance was a Buncombe County native born in 1830 to a family that owned enslaved people. He became a Confederate officer and was first elected North Carolina governor during the Civil War. He served as a U.S. senator from 1879 until he died in 1894.
While the monument that bears Vance’s name is a recognizable landmark in Asheville, it has long been a point of contention.
“I realized that it was more than just some big thing in the middle of downtown to tell your friends to meet up with you at,” Victoria Estes told the City Council. “I realized that it was a monument to pain and suffering.”