Our View: Let N.C. cities decide fate of monuments


Rocky Mount Telegram

Thursday, August 17, 2017

City governments and other institutions are dealing with the repercussions of the horrific Charlottesville white supremacist rally in different ways. The city of Baltimore, for example, took down Confederacy monuments with little fanfare on Tuesday night. The University of Florida has denied a request for a September speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Those decisions are being made by thoughtful leaders who are familiar with the climate and the wishes of the communities they serve.

But here in North Carolina, those kinds of local decisions have been denied by the N.C. General Assembly. The legislature in 2015 passed a bill signed into law by then-Gov. Pat McCrory that prevents the removal or relocation of such monuments.

The law follows the same sad track record of so many other policies dictated by this legislature. It takes away authority from local governing bodies in what should be locally made decisions.

Here in Rocky Mount, for example, the Confederate monument at Battle Park is protected by the law, regardless of how local leaders and residents feel about its existence.

That’s a foolish policy, regardless of where you live in North Carolina. How do lawmakers from as far away as Manteo or Murphy know what’s “best” for a community like Rocky Mount? Or Durham? Or any other city or town that wants to remove monuments to the Civil War?

Wherever you land on such an issue, your choice should mean something in the community in which you live. It should not be dictated by lawmakers in Raleigh, many of whom are not familiar with the values of the communities they are trying to control.

Gov. Roy Cooper has called for a repeal of the 2015 legislation for exactly that reason. It’s time for North Carolina lawmakers to open their hears to rational thinking.