BY KARISSA MILLER
Local residents, bolstered by the growing movement for social justice, spoke out Tuesday evening against racial segregation, injustices and the inequity that see throughout Iredell County during the Board of County Commissioners meeting.
Their message to commissioners: Now is not the time to be passive about these issues; members of our community are hurting; and people of all races are banding together and asking local leaders to listen and take action.
During the public comment period, Statesville Branch NAACP President Todd Scott pushed for the removal of the Confederate memorial statue on the front lawn of the Iredell County government Center.
“They are a representation of systematic racism,” Scott said of monuments to the Confederacy. “They serve as a painful reminder of our history and past.”
While conceding that tearing the statue down won’t solve all the racial injustices that exist, Scott said doing so could be the beginning of solidarity between the races.
“I never saw someone lose a war and put up statues,” Scott said, adding that when he lived in Germany he did not see monuments celebrating the Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime.
He pointed out that the Board of Commissioners is made up of former military leaders and a police officer and asked them to look at the issue from that perspective.
“Do what’s right for Iredell County,” Scott said.
If the Confederate memorial remains in place when the commissioners meet again, people who want to see it removed will be back at the next meeting to make the same request.
“Know justice, know peace,” he said in closing.
Lisa Standish addressed the board on behalf of the nonprofit Times4Change, which has been protesting racial inequality near Mitchell Community College. She also spoke out against the Confederate monument.
“The statue does need to be removed. It does not represent all of Statesville,” Standish said. “I believe in the Golden Rule: Do unto others that you would have do unto you.”
She asked everyone in the community to put themselves in the shoes of their neighbors and try to see things from their perspective.
Standish also stressed the need for access to higher-paying jobs through a Second Chance program, building up impoverished communities, community redevelopment and revitalization among other programs.
Tonya Thomas called for community reform, citing the need for community liaisons to help address the dire needs of neglected communities.
“All communities matter,” Thomas said. “Let’s focus on where the fires are out of control.”