Calls for increased transparency within the Statesville Police Department and the removal of a monument to the memory of Confederate soldiers were made during the public comment portion of Monday’s Statesville City Council meeting.

Genesis Houpe read the inscription on the Civil War monument, which is located in front of the Iredell County Government Center, and described the statue as “a physical representation of a very dark period in our history. … We should join the rest of the world in removing these relics. They represent a time that should not be celebrated.”

As of Monday night, more than 1,300 people have signed an online petition calling for the monument’s removal.

Police transparency

Speaking on behalf of a group called, Katie Solano said they are forming a Community Police Oversight and Review Board. “We are simply asking for transparency within our police department. Our review board would allow members of the community to come to us with any complaints they don’t feel comfortable addressing themselves,” Solano said. “I don’t think it’s asking too much for our police to tell us when officers do wrong. I think that would give a lot of people in the community hope.”

Makayla Edwards noted that there had been 18 prior complaints against the Minnesota officer who killed George Floyd. “There should not be any problem with providing complaints against the police, yet there are. That shows there is problem,” Edwards said. “We do not believe all cops are bad, but they do all need to be held accountable for their actions. If you truly want this community to thrive, we need to trust our police.”

James Sprinkle said the community has a right to know about the policies that guide police work in our community.

“The Statesville Police Department training policy needs to be made public. If they are trained on how to use a gun, are they trained on how to de-escalate a situation? We want to make sure people in authority are trained properly to serve and protect as they are sworn to do,” Sprinkle said. “When people truly believe the police department is properly trained, there will be no need for fear.”

Substandard Housing 

Several members of the public also spoke about the need for better housing standards in the city.

Lisa Standish said there are residents living in unsafe conditions, including homes with mold, leaking roofs, no hot water, and no working facilities for personal hygiene.

“Landlords have a responsibility to provide safe housing, and this is not happening on the Southside. The City of Statesville is failing its legal responsibilities,” Standish said. “Residents must be allowed to withhold rent until catastrophic issues are resolved.”

“We need to give the people in my community something to be proud of. You have to put up with mold. You have to put up with roaches. Some houses don’t even have heat,” said Latoya Imes. “I hope we’ll take a more focused look on the Southside of Statesville.”

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