Resident criticizes board and warns that ‘things will get a lot worse’ if monument is vandalized again
BY KARISSA MILLER
Tommy Hamel told Iredell County commissioners on Tuesday that he expects them to protect the Confederate monument located on county property in Statesville and to keep the downtown area safe for families.
The monument, which was erected in 1905 as a tribute to local soldiers killed in the Civil War, was recently vandalized. Someone painted “BLM” — which stands for Black Lives Matter — on the monument in front of the Iredell County Government Center.
Speaking to commissioners during Tuesday’s board meeting, Hamel told the commissioners they were not performing their duties.
“You are lacking on another part of your oath in keeping a civil and calm (and) safe community for families. What’s been going on out front here has been anything but civil or calm,” he said. “It’s going to get a lot worse if people keep vandalizing the statue.”
The monument represents a part of the county’s history and anyone who damages it should be held accountable, Hamel said.
If commissioners don’t handle the matter, “they will end up with a real big problem on their hands,” he said.
Other speakers described a negative vibe that protests over the monument — and counterprotests — have brought to the downtown area. They expressed concern for business owners.
Board Chairman James Mallory told the group that the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the vandalism.
Commissioner Gene Houpe said county officials are being as proactive as possible. He asked citizens to let the ICSO do its job.
“We are doing things that we aren’t going to publicly say. It’s an active investigation. Measures are being taken to catch, prevent and prosecute anyone caught doing that. I will leave it at that,” Houpe said.
“We can assure that we don’t need citizens stepping up at this point,” he added.
Also, during the public comment period:
• Alicia Standish addressed the commissioners about an inmate death and four injured officers. She said that there has been a lack of details regarding the circumstances, and called for accountability and transparency.
• Andy Webster, Cool Spring Volunteer Fire Department chief, thanked commissioners for including volunteer fire departments in the CARES funding. He also thanked outgoing commissioner Ken Robertson for his leadership and “always being a thought-provoking speaker.”