Both sides of monument debate weigh in at Pitt Co. Commissioner’s meeting

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Both sides of the debate over whether to remove the confederate monument outside of the Pitt County Courthouse weighed in during Monday’s Pitt County Commissioners meeting.

The controversy surrounding the monument became more intense after a petition recently surfaced requesting it be removed from the courthouse grounds. The petition has since gotten 1,400 supporters.

“As an American, I cannot look at that statue and believe that is my heritage, having family that had slaves,” said Kristoffer Rixon, who started the petition.

Rixon wants the monument moved to a more appropriate place, like a museum.

“It is an injustice that sits at the doors of a place where our community seeks out justice,” he said.

“All we ask is to have this monument removed, and we get things shoved in our face,” said Shenavery Cherry, who said the monument only seems to bring out the worst in people.

But others who want the monument to stay argue different points.

“The monument is a memorial to people who died,” said Perry Ennis, who said the statue serves as an important reminder of where we have come as a country.

Others took the meeting as an opportunity to weigh-in about what the civil war was actually about.

“Some people continue to claim that the civil war was fought over state’s rights,” said Don Cavellini, who is in support of removing it.

“The civil war was not about slavery,” said Nancy Colville, who wants the monument to stay. “The Civil War was about money and power.”

Perhaps the biggest sticking point in the debate is a law passed by the General Assembly in 2015 that prohibits the removal of monuments or statues without permission from the state.

County attorney Janis Gallagher said the commissioners do have another option if they want it.

“The law does allow relocation in order to preserve an object, or when necessary for construction, renovation or re-configuration of buildings,” she said.

However if that happens, the monument must be moved to a place of equal visibility, likely ruling out a museum.

Governor Roy Cooper has already requested the state law be changed by the General Assembly.

During Monday’s meeting, Pitt County Commissioners did not address the subject directly. One commissioner told WNCT’s Josh Birch commenting on the subject would be premature.

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