Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, on Tuesday called for the state to initiate the removal of Confederate statues from state property, citing the recent attack in Charlottesville allegedly carried out by a self-proclaimed white supremacist.
“Some people cling to the belief that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. But history is not on their side. We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down,” Cooper wrote in a Medium post. “Our Civil War history is important, but it belongs in textbooks and museums — not a place of allegiance on our Capitol grounds.”
His post came after protesters in Durham, North Carolina, pulled down a Confederate monument outside the old Durham County Courthouse on Monday. Cooper wrote that he would prefer to remove the monuments through a more formal process, citing public safety concerns.
“The likelihood of protesters being injured or worse as they may try to topple any one of the hundreds of monuments in our state concerns me. And the potential for those same white supremacist elements we saw in Charlottesville to swarm the site, weapons in hand, in retaliation is a threat to public safety,” Cooper wrote.
Cooper called for the state legislature to repeal a 2015 law that requires state lawmaker approval for the removal of Confederate monuments. The governor will likely face an uphill battle in repealing the law and removing the statues given that Republicans have a veto-proof majority in the state legislature.
The governor also said he has asked the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to review and determine the cost of removing Confederate monuments in the state.
The attack in Charlottesville has prompted several state and local officials across the country to push for monuments recalling slavery to be removed. Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday called for the removal of a statue of former Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the Dred Scott decision, to be removed from the state house lawn, a reversal from his previous stance.