Rally Draws Protesters And Supporters Of Confederate Statue In Winton-Salem

Rally Draws Protesters And Supporters Of Confederate Statue In Winton-Salem

12:01am Jan 14, 2019
The Confederate soldier statue sits on private property at the former Forsyth County Courthouse. KERI BROWN/WFDD
  • Supporters surround the Confederate soldier statue during the rally. KERI BROWN/WFDD

  • Protesters stand across the street from the statue chanting and holding signs. KERI BROWN/WFDD

  • Winston-Salem Police had security around the area and blocked off some streets. KERI BROWN/WFDD

  • The city of Winston-Salem has ordered the statue be removed by the end of January. KERI BROWN/WFDD

The icy weather didn’t keep away supporters and protestors of the Confederate monument in downtown Winston-Salem Sunday. The city has ordered the United Daughters of the Confederacy to remove it by the end of the month.

Twice as many protestors gathered across the street from the Confederate soldier monument. They carried large signs that said, “Take it down” and “We fight for justice.”  Miranda Jones is a teacher from Winston-Salem who was there.

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Protesters rally across from the statue. KERI BROWN/WFDD

“I feel like it is now time for the statue to come down, and just as much as I want the statue to come down, I also want the city to be proactive in bringing down systemic racism,” says Jones. “When we go towards East Winston, when we go towards the Northside, when we go towards the Southside, I want the city to also look at the statue as a symbol of some of the greater problems."  

Destiny Blackwell of Greensboro is with a group called Get Hate Out of Winston.

“It’s a statue that represents soldiers who fell fighting for slavery and that is something that we as a nation shouldn’t be proud of,” she says.

Rev. Paul Robeson Ford of Winston-Salem says, ”We know that this is what the history is about and the sad reality is, but the reality is that these men died for the wrong cause and we can’t celebrate them in city centers.”

The 30-foot tall statue stands in front of the former Forsyth County courthouse on Fourth and Liberty streets. It’s been vandalized twice. Winston-Salem police provided security during the protests around the area and some nearby streets were shut down during the rally. Supporters surrounded the monument during the rally and placed flowers on the pedestal.

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Supporters surround the statue. They stayed until all of the protesters were gone. KERI BROWN/WFDD

Unlike protests in Chapel Hill and Charlottesville, Virginia, this one remained peaceful. Jason Mendenhall from Advance is a veteran and says the monument should stay where it’s stood since 1905.

“I look at my ancestors when I look at that statue. I look at my great-great uncle who was in Gettysburg, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It’s heritage. It’s history. That’s not hate,” says Mendenhall.

James Smithson of Burlington says this issue is deeply personal for him.

“It’s hurtful. I’m a veteran. I identify with the statue as a veteran and that’s why I think that we should keep our memorials for all of our veterans,” he says. “I didn’t join the Army to be a Republican or Democrat. I was a soldier, just like these boys were soldiers and they went in and fought for their country because the government asked them to. Plus they went because they were protecting their families and the war was right here,” Smithson says. 

The question that remains is are the days numbered for the statue on the downtown site?

The city says the United Daughters of the Confederacy must move it by the end of January. The former courthouse now houses apartments. The owner has also asked them to move it for safety reasons.

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Supporters placed flowers on the statue's pedestal to honor fallen soldiers before the rally. KERI BROWN/WFDD

The city says it has offered to pay to have it relocated to a nearby cemetery, where several Confederate soldiers are buried.

“And they’re not going to end with that, that’s the problem. Once this is all down they will move to take down other statues,” says Curt Childress Jr. from New London, North Carolina, who supports the monument. He adds, “We know that it’s probably going to happen. We just want it done in the right way. We don’t adhere to a mob mentality and just because something offends you doesn’t mean you can take the law into your own hands.”

*You can follow WFDD’s Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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