BY STACIE LETT CAIN

Statesville City Council members got an earful on Monday night from protesters who believe they have been neglected by city officials and the police department while exercising their constitutional rights.

The criticism stems from the ongoing protests in downtown related to the presence of a Confederate monument on the grounds of the Iredell County Government Center.

“For 47 days we protested peacefully and endured threats, stalking, assaults, slander, lies and derogatory terms that were thrown our way,” Mikayla Edwards told the council during the public comment portion of the council meeting. “That was 67,680 minutes of patience while being abused by strangers and repeatedly refused help by law enforcement and the magistrate. After that we defended ourselves verbally.”

One of the protesters was arrested for using profane language.

Coles Bristol told the council that the Confederate monument is a divisive symbol.

“To many this statue represents the Confederacy, many treat it as a memorial,” Bristol said. “But it isn’t. It states very clearly its intent on the side of the statue.”

The statue bears the inscription “For all those who died, though the war was lost, the cause was just.”

It serves as a painful reminder that equality does not exist within our community, Bristol said.

“Every person of color who walks by that statue dies a thousand deaths and they grieve,” Bristol explained. “It doesn’t represent our ideals or the ideals of this country. It needs to come down.”

Edwards, menwhile, accused the police department of failing to take threats against the protesters seriously and failing to protect them from a group of counter-protesters known as Statesville History Guard. Directing her comments to city leaders and city police, she issued an edict:

“You are an example of why we began protesting and continue to be the reason we will not stop,” she said. “No justice, no peace. Black lives matter.”

City officials did not respond to the criticism.

Customer Service Office to reopen

With the lifting of the Governor’s Executive Order on July 29, the city will resume applying late fees and disconnections on delinquent utility accounts.

City Manager Ron Smith advised customers who have a balance due for utility services to contact the city as soon as possible to insure that their service is not interrupted.

“Our city staff is working tirelessly to make sure that arrangements are being made for anyone who calls in on their utility service, but we can only help you if you call us,” Smith advised. “We want to help make this transition as easy as possible and we don’t want anyone to experience an unnecessary interruption of service.”

In addition to discussing disconnections, there was also discussion about the Customer Service Office and the inability of people to visit the office.

“I don’t see where we are providing a whole lot of customer service with that office closed to the public,” Councilmemner C.O. Johnson said, explaining that he had contacted by several constituents.

“We have to do something to fix this situation.”

In addition to guaranteeing the drive-thru stay open until 5 p.m., Johnson also wanted to make sure that city workers were giving change back to clients.

“I remember when just 10 cents meant I could afford to buy myself a drink,” Johnson said. “I don’t think it’s right that we are refusing to give change back when someone comes in to pay a bill with cash.”

Opening the office to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic comes with challenges, according to Ron Smith.

“I made the decision to close that office based on the governor’s order and the protocols that were put in place were done to protect both city staff and citizens who would visit the office,” the city manager explained. “If we were to encounter a person with COVID, the entire staff would have to be quarantined for two weeks, not to mention exposure to others who may be there at the same time.”

The council voted to reopen the office, keep the drive-thru open until 5 p.m. and require employees to give change to paying customers. The office will have a 10-person limit and, according to Smith, that number would be strictly enforced.

“I want everyone on this council to be aware that if this office is reopened, we will expect your support when you get calls that people are being escorted out of the office for being over the maximum number of people allowed,” Smith advised. “We will very strictly enforce that number.”

8 thoughts on “Protesters: City officials, police department have failed anti-monument demonstrators

  1. I was unable to attend the city counsel meeting, I an deeply offended as this group “time4change” has ridiculed Statesville PD as well as Iredell County Sheriffs dept.As a citizen of this county, and a consumer in the city of Statesville I was called a racist and intimidated by the time4change protesters. Blocking sidewalks and calling individuals and their businesses racist if they had a more conservative view. I did come down to Statesville after I saw times4chage admit to vandalizing the monument. Time4change group has portrayed themselves as victims, which is far from the truth as they have held the city and local businesses hostage to push their agenda.As well as disrespect SPD and Iredell County Sheriff’s Dept. All while claiming they are a non profit I have asked as well as others if they are a 501c only to be ridiculed for asking. This group also claims the want equality and peace BUT refused to join in a celebration of unity in Statesville that took place Sunday at Crazy David’s Also a suggestion was for this group or BLM would dedicate a monument for Black vets or a civil rights leader to be dedicated to county so we call stand in solidarity have been refused.I was hoping Statesville press would have a non judgmental neutral reporting of what is going on but that has not been the case.

    • All the vets are treated the same. All of this is getting out of hand. If we can’t have our monuments neither should BLM. It’s no different. And police do matter. They are turning us into a commie country.

  2. “To many this statue represents the Confederacy, many treat it as a memorial,” Bristol said. “But it isn’t. It states very clearly its intent on the side of the statue.”

    Uh, no. That is his blind opinion and that is all. For 99.9% of people it IS a memorial dedicated to those who died defending these lands from an illegal war and an illegal invasion by the North. The “cause” of protecting these lands and our people was just.

    This memorial has stood peacefully as a reminder of the terrible human costs of that illegal war for over 114 years. It should stand as it is and be kept up in memory of all those who died. More men were lost in the so-called Civil War than in all other conflicts the U.S. has participated in combined.

  3. Joyce Compton Brown says:

    Throughout the years, Statesville has tried to bill itself as a city of progress while simultaneously ignoring and even implementing a systemic racism that harkens back to the 1950s (and earlier, as the confederate statue inscription clarifies). For decades, city and county have historically cut their own economic throats as an easy study of racist and generally intolerant policies reveals this is not a good atmosphere for nationally renown companies.
    Such a beautiful little city. Its leaders should move beyond widespread county attitudes, wake up to the potential strengths to be found in its black leadership instead of clinging to the self destructive attitudes of the past. We can somewhat accept that older generations didn’t know any better. We no longer have that excuse.

  4. Robert Campbell says:

    City officials should have the courage to address this issue. Staying quiet and not responding is cowardice. They have a duty to stand up for the minority when called for and not be so concerned with re-election. Do the right thing and take down the monument. If not state in open session the reasons you don’t. There is no valid reason to leave this racist monument standing.

  5. I believe the statue should not be torn down but rather be placed in a in a different location. I also saw days of peaceful protest. Maybe the police needs to be more concerned with who is disrupting the protesters instead of giving in to the ones who are not so peaceful.
    This is such a wonderful community, but I do feel we need a change with our representatives so we can move forward.

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