confederate monument, updated

Pasquotank County’s Confederate monument is seen in the courtyard between the county courthouse and the federal courthouse, Thursday, June 25.

Finding a new home for Pasquotank County’s Confederate monument is proving difficult.

The Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 in July to move the controversial monument, claiming it poses a risk to public safety at its current site on the courthouse grounds. Commissioners tasked the board’s Special Projects Committee with finding a new home for the statue.

But Special Projects Committee members Cecil Perry, Jeff Dixon and Barry Overman were advised Monday by County Manager Sparty Hammett that the county has not yet been able to find a new location for the monument.

Hammett presented the committee with four “strategies” to help the county move forward, one of which has the county asking the United Daughters of the Confederacy if would be interested in working jointly with the county to find a suitable relocation site.

Hammett told committee members that the UDC is the likely owner of the monument since the organization paid for most of the statue when it was erected on the courthouse grounds in 1911. But the county and city also paid for part of the monument, Hammett said.

Hammett also told the board that Salisbury worked with a local UDC chapter to move that city’s monument to a nearby cemetery where unknown Confederate soldiers are said to be buried.

Because the Pasquotank UDC chapter is no longer in existence, the county will likely try to work with the North Carolina division of the organization.

The committee voted unanimously to have County Attorney Mike Cox draft a letter to the state chapter of the UDC. The group will be given 14 days “to respond to provide any input and discussion on relocation,” Hammett told commissioners.

If the UDC has no interest in helping move the monument, the Special Projects Committee could consider the three other options presented by Hammett.

Those include soliciting plans from private citizens to relocate the monument to a private location; moving the statue to a museum, graveyard or other appropriate location outside Pasquotank County; or removing the statue from the courthouse grounds and storing it temporarily until a permanent location is found.

A 2015 law passed by state lawmakers prohibited the removal of “objects of remembrance” like Confederate monuments from public property without state approval. The law, however, included several exceptions, one allowing removal if the monument has become a “threat to public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition.”

Voting in July to move the monument were Commissioners Perry, Overman, Lloyd Griffin and Charles Jordan. Voting to keep the monument on the courthouse square were Dixon and Commissioners Sean Lavin and Frankie Meads.

The Special Projects Committee originally planned to meet Aug. 17 to discuss a new home for monument, and how much the relocation could cost. However, that meeting was pushed back to Monday because Hammett said the county needed more time to find a new location for the statue.