BY KARISSA MILLER
After waiting for more than two hours to speak during Tuesday’s Iredell County Board of Commissioners meeting, the Statesville Branch NAACP president and others renewed their call for the removal of a monument to Confederate war dead from county property.
Protesters have been gathering in front of the Iredell County Government Center in Statesville regularly for weeks, following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, to protest the continuing presence of the 115-year-old Confederate monument.
Todd Scott, president of the Statesville Branch NAACP, told commissioners that the statue is a symbol of racism and oppression.
“We, as a people, have always been told to wait. This is justice denied,” Scott said.
Scott said that the commissioners might be afraid to act because relocating the monument might cost them their seats on Election Day.
“They hung our black people, but you still want the statue to stay,” he said.
Scott’s shrill refrain — “but you still want the statue to stay” — was repeated throughout his remarks as he referenced other graphic images and symbols that represent hate and oppression.
Scott asked the commissioners to remove the statue and relocate it to a cemetery. NAACP presidents have been calling for its removal since 1930, he said.
“Are we not mature enough to meet at the table and talk about racism?” he asked.
Jayne Carlisle, a teacher, also called for the statue to be removed.
Change is inevitable and can be extremely difficult, she said, but for Statesville to be a strong community, “We must change. We must shift.”
The statue “not only represents soldiers fallen, but an inhumane practice — one which dehumanized a population of our own species,” she added.
Carlisle explained that one of her favorite Bible verses is 1 Peter 4:8, which she paraphrased: “Above all, love each other deeply because it covers a multitude of sins.”
“Slavery was our original sin,” she told the commissioners.
Other speakers also called for the removal of the statue, the need for improved relations between black and white Americans and the need to reform negative dynamics in the local business community.
Also, during the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, the board:
♦ Heard a presentation by the Iredell Council on the Aging and approved their funding plan for Fiscal Year 2020.
♦ Approved a budget amendment in the amount of $206,693 for a replacement tanker fire apparatus, which will be used by Troutman Fire Department.
♦ Approved a request to accept a donation of the Fire Safety House and accompanying one-ton pickup truck used to tow it. The Fire Safety House is used to teach children about fire safety in their homes.
♦ Approved $1,940 for additional special funding for the WIC Nutrition Program that will be used to purchase office equipment.
♦ Approved a request to appropriate $718,408 to Children’s Hope Alliance.