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Eastern NC Residents Fight To Remove Confederate Monument To “Faithful Slaves”

Source: WRAL

After decades of advocacy, residents in Tyrrell County have filed a federal lawsuit to have a Confederate-era monument removed from outside the county courthouse. The monument features a Confederate soldier on top of a pedestal with the inscription “In appreciation of our faithful slaves” written underneath.

The lawsuit was brought by a group called The Concerned Citizens of Tyrrell County. The plaintiffs argue that the public monument is in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because it expresses a racially discriminatory message.

Ian Mance, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the historical record is clear that the monument was meant to send a racist message. “It was put up in the front yard of what was soon to be the Tyrrell County Courthouse… to communicate to people that members of the Black community could not expect to get justice inside of that courthouse,” he said.

The lawsuit alleges the construction of the monument and the county’s continued maintenance “communicates, on behalf of local government, the idea that Tyrrell’s institutions regard Black people’s rightful place as one of subservience and obedience” and that “Black people who were enslaved in Tyrrell County preferred their slavery to freedom.” The lawsuit also claims that the county’s display of the message has “incite(d) racial hostility” and endangers the plaintiffs’ safety.

The monument has been standing since 1902 and the lawsuit is the latest move in a decades-long battle to have it removed from courthouse grounds. Tyrell County residents have been attending commission meetings since the 1990s and holding demonstrations since 2019.

The suit comes up against a 2015 North Carolina law that was intended to prevent local governments from removing Confederate monuments. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has previously supported removing similar Confederate monuments in the state, but the Republican-led General Assembly has fought against such removals. 

“Litigation was our last resort,” said Sherryreed Robinson, a plaintiff in the case. “We have peacefully voiced our objections for years. This monument says our ancestors preferred slavery to freedom. That’s a false and hurtful message for the government to communicate.”

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