Home / National News / Recent flashpoints in the controversy over Confederate symbols

 

(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — As of 2016, the U.S. was home to more than 700 Confederate monuments or statues on public property, according to a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

But Confederate symbols, such as the Confederate flag and statues of leaders of the Confederacy during the Civil War, have often been the source of controversy for their perceived racial ties. As part of a groundswell calling for the removal of these symbols, many have come down since 2016 — often stirring conflict.

This weekend’s rally over a Confederate statue in Virginia that turned deadly joins a list of recent incidents sparked by Confederate symbols on public grounds.

Columbia, South Carolina

In July 2015, capping an emotional and long debate, South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from its post on the state Capitol grounds in Columbia, a change approved by then-Gov. Nikki Haley.

The flag had been a source of contention for years. Opponents of the flag contended it is a symbol of segregation and fuels racism, while some supporters called it an important relic of history that does not symbolize hate. The debate returned to the forefront in June 2015 after nine black parishioners were shot and killed at a church in Charleston.

The state decided to remove the Confederate flag from its state capitol on July 10, 2015, and cheers of “U.S.A.” erupted as the color guard took it down.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Following a 2015 City Council vote, New Orleans’ four Confederate monuments were removed.

The City Council vote was on a proposal by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who also cited the June 2015 Charleston church shooting.

The last monument removed was the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee that towered over the center of what was commonly called Lee Circle along St. Charles Avenue. The removal on May 19, 2017, was met with cheers from an attending crowd.

St. Louis, Missouri

A Confederate monument in a St. Louis park was removed in June, 2017. In the weeks leading up to the removal, it was the site of protests.

The monument showed a Confederate soldier leaving his family for the Civil War with an angel hovering above them.

Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville’s plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from a local park became the center of the deadly incident on August 12, 2017.

The plan to remove the statue was protested by white nationalists, including neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members, who formed a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The white nationalists were met in the college town by hundreds of counter-protesters, which led to street brawls and violent clashes.

A driver plowed into a group of people who were protesting the white nationalists, killing one and injuring many others. The suspected driver is in custody and facing charges.

Two Virginia State Troopers helping with the response to the clashes also died that day in a helicopter crash.

Durham, North Carolina

Two days after the Charlottesville violence, activists and protesters who attended a rally in Durham to coax officials to remove a Confederate soldier statue that’s been in front of the city’s courthouse since 1924 decided to remove it themselves.

During the rally on August 14, 2017, protesters surrounded the base of the statue, which depicts a Confederate soldier wielding a muzzle rifle and lugging a canteen and bedroll and is dedicated “in memory of the boys who wore gray.”

Some protesters used a ladder and looped a rope around the statue before yanking the soldier from its concrete perch.

While dragging it to the ground, the angry demonstrators stomped on the statue repeatedly.

The Durham County Sheriff said his office will seek charges against those who pulled down the statue.

A renewed push to remove Confederate symbols

The violence in Charlottesville has put a new spotlight on Confederate symbols around the nation.

In New York, a member of Congress and the Brooklyn Borough President are renewing their calls for the names of Brooklyn streets General Lee Avenue and Stonewall Jackson Way to be changed, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

And in Kentucky, a rally is expected Wednesday to call for the removal of a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis at the Capitol, the Courier Journal reported.

The state’s governor, Matt Bevin, condemned the recent violence in an interview with WVHU radio on Tuesday, but added that he “absolutely” disagrees with removing Confederate symbols and monuments from government property, calling it the “sanitization of history.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Recent posts in National News