Community leaders call for relocation of Confederate statue in Graham, State of Emergency canceled

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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

Jim Powell

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

John Currin

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

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