GRAHAM, N.C. — The State of Emergency in Graham has been canceled as of Monday night as the debate over the future of the Confederate statue in Graham continues.
At least 50 leaders in the county and surrounding towns and cities signed an open letter to Alamance County Commissioners and Graham Mayor Jerry Peterman
Alamance County Commissioners tell FOX8 they were not aware of the letter or morning news conference until 20 minutes before it started.
The Alamance Burlington School System, Cone Health and Elon University are among those listed in the open letter to get the Confederate Statue in Graham moved from Courthouse Square.
“As more of these monuments come down, the folks that have been working on those actions start to look at the remaining monuments,” Burlington Mayor Ian Baltutis said. “Our thought is that it shines a spotlight brighter on Courthouse Square.”
For days now, police have guarded the monument. There have been some scuffles surrounding it, and curfews had been put in place.
“If action is not taken, then we risk losing control over of the situation, and we risk losing a piece of our community’s history to destruction,” Baltutis added.
Alamance NAACP secretary Dorothy Yarborough sees the monument as a hurtful reminder in the heart of the city.
“We don’t want it torn down. It’s a part of history, but it’s not a good history for minorities,” she said. “Just not in front of the justice building that is supposed to be representing all of us.”
So who has the power to decide the fate of the statue?
County Commissioner chair Amy Galey explained that per state and federal law, county officials do not have the power.
She added that the monument in Graham is “an object of remembrance as defined by the North Carolina general statute,” giving it “different legal status than a statue of an individual person or commemoration of a battle or an event.”
“We also did not make a decisive effort to reach out to anyone with a direct decision capability on the movement of the monument because they’ve had the capability for many years,” Baltutis said.
FOX8 is told there is no specific location in mind for the confederate statute to go if it is moved.
“While this artifact is undeniably part of our history, for many in our community, it represents an ideology incompatible with equality,” Baltutis said. “The history of Confederate monuments in the United States is complex. While many believe they exist simply to honor fallen soldiers, in actuality they were erected at a time of fervent white supremacy.”
He says the monument acts a barrier to inclusion as it stands before the courthouse, “an entity which has historically failed to serve our communities of color with equality.”
Baltutis and dozens of community leaders say they are calling upon the Alamance County Commissioners and the City Council of Graham to take action to relocate the monument in a respectful and appropriate manner.
“Relocation of the monument will remove the threat to the public safety that has been created by this symbol in the Courthouse Square of Graham,” Baltutis said.
Baltutis said the letter has garnered the support of more than 50 community leaders. The following names were included as signers of this letter:
Ian Baltutis, Mayor, City of Burlington
Ed Hooks, Mayor, City of Mebane
Lenny Williams, Mayor, Town of Gibsonville
Carissa Graves-Henry, Mayor, Town of Green Level
Connie Book, President, Elon University
Leo Lambert, President Emeritus, Elon University
Patsy Simpson, School Board Member, Alamance Burlington School System
Steve Van Pelt, School Board Member, Alamance Burlington School System
Brian Feeley, School Board Member, Alamance Burlington School System
Wayne Beam, School Board Member, Alamance Burlington School System
Kathy Colville, Healthy Communities Director, Cone Health
Quinn Ray, Alderman, Town of Elon
Emily Sharpe, Alderman, Town of Elon
Doug Williams, CEO, Buckner Companies
Bill Scott Jr., President, Alamance Foods, Inc
LeAndra N. Ratliff, Chair-Elect, Alamance Chamber of Commerce
Jill Auditori, Mayor Pro-Tem, City of Mebane
Sean C. Ewing, Councilmember, City of Mebane
Patty Philipps, Councilmember, City of Mebane
President Barrett Brown, Alamance NAACP
Jim Bryan, President, Fairystone Fabrics
Preston Hammock, Senior VP, Cone Health
Lavern Delaney, Chief Nursing Officer and VP, Cone Health
Mandy Eaton, EVP People & Culture, Cone Health
Laura Vail, Director, Health Equity, Cone Health
Griffin McClure, Green & McClure Furniture
Jason Cox, The Monroe Companies
Lee Kimrey, Lee Kimrey Construction, LLC
Mayor Pro-Tem Kathy Hykes, City of Burlington
Rev. Anita Thompson, Presiding Elder, Western NC Conference – AME Church
Rev. Tamara Kersey-Brown, Wayman Chapel AME
Rev. Gwendolyn Benjamin, Sr. Pastor, Wayman Chapel AME
Rev. Jay Kennett
Rev. Beth Kennett
Ken Smith, President, Alamance Pride
Tamara Kersey, Secretary, Alamance Pride
Laurin Kier, Incoming treasurer, Alamance Pride
Gabrielle Legrand, At-large board member, Alamance Pride
Yun Boylston, MD, Burlington Pediatrics
Lisa Pennington, Chief, Community & Corporate Well-Being, & Past Chair, Alamance Chamber of Commerce
Mark Gordon, President, Alamance Regional Medical Center
Rev. Dr. Bridgette Gloster, Senior Pastor, Springdale AME, Burlington
Rev. Dr. Clay Gloster Jr. Associate Pastor, Springdale AME Burlington
Pastor A. Offord Carmichael, Jr. – Clover Garden, Burlington NC
Mac Williams, President, Alamance Chamber of Commerce
David K Mertz, MD
David Carter, Allen Tate Realtors