Source: News & Observer

A recent News & Observer editorial highlighted the 2015 bill passed by Republicans and signed into law by then-Governor McCrory which protected monuments from removal. The law was passed in the wake of the Charleston shootings, where a white supremacist murdered African-Americans at a church. The tragedy led to calls for statuary like Confederate monuments to be removed.

The law, according to a News & Observer story published at the time, “bans state agencies and local governments from taking down any ‘object of remembrance’ on public property that ‘commemorates an event, a person, or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history.’”

In 2017, Governor Cooper said that the Confederate monuments should be removed from state property: “We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery,” he said. “These monuments should come down.”

The legislation handcuffs officials from taking action; it prevents any reasonable give and take or for local governments to decide what is best for their municipality. 

The editorial concluded that:

Some condemn the white supremacists, but also those who tear down their monuments. “There is a process,” they say, for peacefully removing them. But there is no real process. There is a law that blocks proceeding. The people who put that obstacle there are responsible for the anger that spills over it. It isn’t about law and order. It’s about a law that ignites disorder.

The removal of the Confederate monument also prompted many to question what led Capitol Police to leave while protestors continued gathering. According to WRAL, State Capitol police were told to stand down by State Capitol Police Chief Chip Hawley. 

Republican leaders insinuated that Governor Cooper ordered the police to vacate, but WRAL reporting refutes that claim. The governor’s office did not instruct any officers to stand down and according to a spokeswoman for the State Capitol police, the decision was made to “protect protesters, bystanders and law enforcement.” 

Read the full editorial on the monument removal from the News & Observer.