Pasquotank County commissioners will move the Confederate monument from the courthouse square, citing the "public safety" exception in state law allowing its removal.

The Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 Monday night to move the monument and have the board's Special Projects Committee determine where it will go.

Voting to move the monument from where it's been since 1911 were Commissioners Lloyd Griffin, Cecil Perry, Barry Overman and Charles Jordan.

Voting to keep the monument on the courthouse square were Commissioners Sean Lavin and Frankie Meads and board Chairman Jeff Dixon.

The Special Projects Committee, whose members include Dixon, Perry and Overman, will now study how the monument should be removed, how much it will cost to remove and where it should be relocated. The panel will then return to commissioners with their recommendations for a vote.

The board's vote followed more than an hour of public comment and commissioner deliberations on the monument's future. About 15 people addressed commissioners about the monument, with about 60 percent speaking in favor of keeping it on the courthouse square and 40 percent seeking its removal. 

Much of commissioners' discussion at Monday's meeting focused on whether the monument has become a public safety hazard. Other North Carolina cities and counties have removed Confederate monuments from places of prominence in recent weeks, citing the public safety exception.

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 included several exceptions, one allowing removal if the monument has become a "threat to public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition.”

The recent slayings of George Floyd and other African Americans while in police custody have sparked nationwide protests, some of which have targeted Confederate monuments as symbols of white supremacy. Because the protests have involved efforts to forcibly pull down the monuments, public officials increasingly have expressed concern that they pose a risk to public safety.