WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The United Daughters of the Confederacy have until the end of the day Thursday to remove a confederate monument in Winston-Salem or the city may take matters into their own hands.
Early Thursday morning, it appeared little efforts were made thus far to take the monument down.
On Dec. 31, the Winston-Salem City Attorney Angela Carmon sent a letter to the UDC, which owns the statue, directing the organization to remove and relocate it by Jan. 31. The attorney cited concerns for overall public safety, as well as the protection of the statue.
"It is clear that the tenor of the vandal's message has escalated and the intensity of the same is not likely to wane with the passage of time," Carmon wrote in the letter. "The City is not in a position to provide constant security checks necessary for the protection of the statue and to mitigate the recurring acts of vandalism."
Carmon added that the statue should be moved to a "more secure location where the same can be protected from vandals and others looking to create a Charlottesville type incident in Winston-Salem."
On Jan. 25, Attorney James Davis responded on behalf of the North Carolina UDC and asked for a 60-day extension and a forbearance on any legal action considered by the city.
The request aimed to give the organization time to determine if the city's reasoning is legally valid and if the United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division have the authority to remove the monument from its current location. Davis expressed concern that the order to remove the monument might go against the 4th and 14th amendments.
"The monument has stood silently since its dedication to the citizens of Forsyth County on or about October 4, 1905," the letter reads. "A period of sixty days is a mere blink of the eye in comparison to the more than a Century the monument has served the citizens of Forsyth County, North Carolina."
The city ultimately rejected the UDC's request.
Groups both for and against the statue's removal have prosted at the site over the last few weeks.
The city's order came in the wake of another vandalism of the privately-owned monument, which got the city “to thinking that this could be a situation that can create violence,” Mayor Allen Joines said.
Police said they responded to a call that the monument had been defaced at 5:24 p.m. Christmas Day. There, they found that the monument had the words “cowards & traitors” written on it in what appeared to be permanent marker.
This is also not the first time it’s been vandalized. In August 2017, someone spray-painted the monument, nearly a week after the Charlottesville, Virginia, protests.
Joines said the city had previously spoken with the United Daughters of the Confederacy about the possibility of moving the monument to Salem Cemetery, where he says there are 36 Confederate graves, but the United Daughters of the Confederacy declined.
When asked why the United Daughters of the Confederacy declined in the past, Joines says they cited a 2015 law enacted in North Carolina which protects monuments on public grounds. However, Joines says the city believes the statue can be removed because it is on private grounds.
The monument, which was erected in 1905, sits at the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets but is not on public grounds. The statue is owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, but the ground on which it stands is owned by Winston Courthouse, LLC, according to documents.