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Critics slam Confederate monument

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By LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Monday, August 14, 2017

Rocky Mount residents and members of the City Council said it's time to topple a Confederate monument on Falls Road in the wake of tragic events in Virginia involving white supremacists clashing with anti-protesters.

Councilman Reuben Blackwell began Monday night's meeting with a moment of silence for the people in Charlottesville,Va., who lost their lives or were injured in an “attack on freedom and civil rights.”

At least three people died and dozens were injured Saturday during violence associated with a neo-Nazi and alt-right rally objecting to the removal of a Confederate monument in the beleaguered town 200 miles north of Rocky Mount.

The public comment portion of the council meeting was filled with folks who demanded removal of the 100-year-old Confederate monument at Battle Park.

Former mayoral candidate Bronson Williams said he was devastated by the tragedy as he watched it unfold on television. He said the council needs to get rid of the monument to treasonous secessionists who fought to keep slaves.

“The monument doesn't represent Rocky Mount,” Williams said. “Remove it with all deliberate speed.”

Resident Troy Davis spoke only one sentence: “Remove the Confederate monument as soon as possible.”

Blackwell said when he took office in 2000, the monument was part of the city's logo. He made sure it was removed.

And as far as the actual monument, he's ready to remove that, too.

“If someone wants the statute, let us know,” Blackwell said.

Councilman Andre Knight said he doesn't want Rocky Mount to turn into another Charlottesville because people don't have the courage to address racism.

“I'm not going to glorify men who fought to preserve slavery,” Knight said, who added the council needs to take up the matter as soon as possible.

Word spread fast after the meeting that a group of protesters in Durham pulled down a Confederate statue outside a government building there earlier in the evening.

Meanwhile, a woman who insinuated at a council meeting last month that blacks weren't being hired by the fire department because they couldn't pass a drug test spent her allowed three minutes to complain about the Telegram describing her as white.

“I'm not white, I'm Caucasian,” the woman said.

After the meeting, the woman reiterated her stance that she doesn't want incapable blacks serving with the fire department.

The department has been under fire lately from critics due to a lack of black members.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

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