Judge dismisses United Daughters of Confederacy’s complaint after Winston-Salem moves Confederate monument

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — After the City of Winston-Salem took down the Confederate monument at the corner of Liberty and Fourth streets, the United Daughters of the Confederacy fought back.

Turning to the court, the UDC sought to force the city to return the monument to its corner.

The judge, however, dismissed the case on Wednesday, according to court documents.

Superior Court Judge Eric C. Morgan dismissed the UDC's complaint with prejudice on Wednesday, meaning the UDC cannot bring up this complaint again in the future.

This is a win for the City of Winston-Salem and Winston-Salem Courthouse LLC.

Back in March, the city removed the Confederate monument from outside the former county courthouse where it has stood since 1905. It is currently be housed in a temporary, secure location in Guilford County.

The City of Winston-Salem told FOX8 on Wednesday that the city has not yet set a timeline for relocating the statue to Salem Cemetery but confirmed the city will pay the costs, including the $50,000 purchase order issued to a contractor.

Last month, Sara Powell, the North Carolina division president of the United Daughters, said they would like it put back up.

"I was very sad that it was being removed,” Powell said. “It was just unfortunate.”

On Tuesday, the UDC's attorney said they are standing up to bullies.

They wanted the judge to determine who owns the statue, if it is protected by state law, and whether the city had the right to remove it without due process.

With this ruling, the judge does not plan to take the case any further.

The city's order to remove the statue came in the wake of another case of vandalism involving the privately-owned monument, which got the city “to thinking that this could be a situation that can create violence,” Mayor Allen Joines previously 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.

On Dec. 31, the Winston-Salem City Attorney Angela Carmon sent a letter to the UDC, 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."

When the UDC did not remove it, the city took the statue down with the permission of Winston Courthouse LLC which owns the property on which the statue stood.

"Hopefully, the removal and relocation of the Statue to Salem Cemetery will minimize, if not eliminate, the safety concerns addressed more fully in my recent letters ... and restore some semblance of peace for the residents of 50 West Fourth Street and the City at large and reduce the likelihood of damage to the statue," City Attorney Angela Carmon said in a Feb. 1 latter.

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."

Groups both for and against the statue's removal have protested at the site in the weeks leading up to the statue's removal.

For more information on the timeline leading to the relocation of the monument, click here.

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