These cities are weighing whether to remove Confederate memorials

Posted at 3:19 PM, Aug 16, 2017

(CNN) -- More than 150 years after the Civil War ended, the Confederacy is memorialized with statues, monuments and historical markers across the United States.

Some say they mark history and honor heritage. Others argue they are racist symbols of America's dark legacy of slavery.

A nationwide debate surrounding this issue has been underway since Dylann Roof killed nine African-Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015 in an effort to "start a race war." And it flared up again after white nationalists marched last weekend to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a counterprotester was killed amid violent clashes between demonstrators.

The National Register of Historic Places does not keep a detailed list of Confederate memorials. In 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center identified 1,503 Confederate "place names and other symbols in public spaces" across the nation but admitted the study was "far from comprehensive." Some Civil War monuments in the South, such as at battlefields, do not have pro-Confederate symbolism.

Many local government officials are now weighing whether to keep Confederate memorials in their cities and towns. Here's a state-by-state breakdown.



The Charlottesville City Council voted in April to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at the newly renamed Emancipation Park, CNN affiliate WVIR reported. The violence there over the weekend came after this decision. The removal is on hold pending litigation.


A Confederate statue called "Old Joe" was removed Monday in Gainesville, Florida. The statue sat outside the Alachua County Administration Building for more than 100 years. The Alachua County Board of Commissioners made the decision to remove the statue in May after two years of debate. It will be relocated by the Daughters of the Confederacy.

The Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners voted in July to remove the Memoria In Aeterna monument, which honors Confederate soldiers, from a county courthouse. The board is also expected to relocate the Hillsborough County Civil War Veterans Monument.

North Carolina

Protesters toppled over a Confederate statue Monday in front of the old Durham County Courthouse. The monument depicted a soldier holding a gun and had an engraving that said "in memory of the boys who wore gray." The protest was held in response to the Charlottesville violence.


Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said he will ask the City Council to approve relocating two Confederate-era monuments from a former courthouse. The mayor announced the decision in a series of tweets after the Charlottesville attack.

"I am taking action to relocate the Confederate statues. We have thoroughly examined the issue, and heard from many of our citizens," Gray said. In another tweet, Gray said he planned to make the announcement next week, but said his decision was affected by the "tragic events" in Charlottesville.


Baltimore removed four Confederate statues overnight on Tuesday, one day after the City Council voted unanimously to take down the monuments immediately, CNN affiliate WBAL reported. Mayor Catherine Pugh defended her decision to remove the monuments "quickly and quietly" overnight, saying it was the best thing for Baltimore.

"The city charter says, according to our city attorney, if the mayor wants to protect or feels like she needs to protect the public or keep her community safe, she has the right to keep her community safe. I felt the best way to remove the monuments was to remove them overnight," Pugh said.


The Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, removed a Confederate monument early Wednesday morning, spokesman Theodore Hovey told CNN. The monument memorialized more than 30 Confederate veterans and their families who are buried in the cemetery. It was erected in 1925.

The Long Beach chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the owners of the monument, asked the cemetery to remove it after it was featured in an August 4 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Hovey said. A CNN request for comment from the United Daughters of the Confederacy was not immediately answered. "It was a mutual decision on the part of the cemetery and the monument's owner that it is best for it to be removed," Hovey said. The graves around the monument were not affected, he said.

Considering removing


Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings called for the formation of a task force Tuesday to determine the fate of Confederate statues in city parks during the next 90 days, including the Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park and the Confederate War Memorial in downtown Dallas, CNN affiliate KTVT reported. "This is simple. We could remove them, the question is, how do we heal on this issue? To do that we have to talk and listen to one another," Rawlings said.

In San Antonio, two City Council members have pushed for the removal of a Confederate monument at Travis Park, CNN affiliate KSAT reported. Councilmen Roberto Treviño and William "Cruz" Shaw jointly filed a consideration to relocate the monument where it could be used in an "educational context."

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner asked city staff to compile an inventory of Confederate statues and make recommendations about whether they should be removed from city property. Members of the public urged the council to take down the statues. "It is my hope that we can, in a very positive and constructive way, move forward," Turner said.


Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche said she asked city officials for an inventory of all Confederate monuments and markers. Brosche said in a statement that she plans to submit legislation to relocate the monuments to museums for "appropriate historical context."

Related: What can communities do with Confederate monuments? Here are 3 options


Officials in Richmond, the one-time capital of the Confederacy, have started to hold public meetings for community input on the future of the city's many Civil War monuments and statues. According to local reports, the first meeting was civil, with spirited debate on both sides. The city hopes to have a plan in place later this fall.


The city of Atlanta said it is currently reviewing options for the Peace Monument in Piedmont Park. Mayor Kasim Reed asked the public art commission to review the city's art and determine which pieces have ties to racism and slavery, but hasn't asked to remove any.


Birmingham Mayor William Bell ordered plastic draped over a Confederate monument at Linn Park and a plywood structure built around it while officials decide what to do. State law prohibits a city from taking down the monument, he said, but not covering it up. "This country should in no way tolerate the hatred that the KKK, neo-Nazis, fascists and other hate groups spew," he said. "The God I know doesn't put one race over another."

Not removing


Gov. Doug Ducey told CNN affiliate KTVK that he will not remove any Confederate monuments or memorials and will instead leave that decision up to the public.

"It's not my desire or mission to tear down any monuments or memorials. We have a public process for this. If the public wants to be engaged on this, I'd invite them to get engaged in it," Ducey said.


Officials with Gettysburg National Military Park said they have no plans to remove any of the park's 1,300-plus monuments, markers or plaques.

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