READ Lawsuit to Relocate Confederate Monument.

Special to Iredell Free News

A coalition of Iredell County residents, state and local NAACP chapters, and a local clergy group filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Iredell County Superior Court against Iredell County, the Iredell County Board of Commissioners, and the commissioners themselves in an effort to have the Confederate monument removed from the grounds of the Iredell County Government Center in Statesville.

The lawsuit alleges that the Confederate monument celebrates slavery, secession and white supremacy, and creates a threat to public safety at taxpayers expense. The monument’s continuing presence also violates multiple provisions of the North Carolina Constitution, according to the 54-page lawsuit.

“Iredell County’s use of the Sheriff’s Department to maintain and protect the Confederate Monument in Statesville bears no rational, real or substantial relation to public health, morals, order, or safety, or the general welfare of the people of Iredell County,” the lawsuit contends. “To the contrary, maintaining and protecting a monument to the Confederacy, which venerates white supremacy, slavery and secession, is an arbitrary and unreasonable use of government power with no connection to any public good.”

Many Iredell County residents have called for the Confederate monument’s removal, saying that its presence creates an unsafe environment and causes pain to Iredell County’s Black residents.

On March 3, the Iredell County Board of Commissioners voted 4 to 1 to remove the Confederate monument, conceding in their Resolution that the monument “occupied a prominent position in front of the justice system during a period of Jim Crow laws, segregation and endemic discrimination against African-Americans,” and that, for Black residents, the monument “continues to serve as a reminder of policies of oppression, having their roots in the system of slavery that existed in the Confederate States of America.”

After voting to remove the monument, however, the commissioners reversed course in the face of political pressure and said the monument would not be moved.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are:

• Christopher A. “Skip” McCall, a Statesville resident;

• Rev. Robert Wright Lee IV. Rev. Lee, a Statesville resident and descendant of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee;

• The North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, a civil rights organization whose mission is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and discrimination.

• The NAACP Statesville Branch, which has been asking commissioners to relocate the monument for decades;

• The NAACP South Iredell Branch; and

• Iredell Clergy for Healing and Justice, an organization of local religious leaders from various denominations which serves as a voice for the underrepresented, disenfranchised, and underserved members of the Iredell County community by addressing social, civic, economic, and educational disparities.

McCall, a Vietnam veteran who protested segregation during the Civil Rights Movement, recalls his grandmother telling him when he was a child that the monument was erected to honor those who fought to keep “our people” in slavery. He promised his grandmother that he would “continue to work as long as there’s breath in my body to satisfy her dreams, her prayers, and her wishes” that the monument be moved.

Rev. Steve Shoemaker, speaking for the local clergy group, said the monument “has continued to cause anguish in the lives of people of color and moral discomfort” to others in the community. “Our faith traditions compel us ‘to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God,’ and ‘to love our neighbor as ourselves.’ Such neighborly love leads us to our support of the relocation of the Confederate monument.”

Rev. Lee called the monument “a celebration of white supremacy and racism.” He said he wants to raise his two recently adopted daughters “in a world where we stand for what we say we stand for, that is equal justice under the law.”

The plaintiffs are represented by David and Carey Parker from the Parker Law Offices in Statesville.

“We are honored to represent the Plaintiffs in this lawsuit and to be part of a team who is peacefully seeking resolution in the courts,” David Parker said in the news release.

In addition, the plaintiffs are represented by a team of attorneys from the international law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP, a firm with a long history of representing clients in North Carolina. Damarr Butler, an associate in O’Melveny’s Washington, D.C., office, is assisting in the case, along with former North Carolina Deputy Attorney General Hampton Dellinger, Cheyenne N. Chambers and Abraham Rubert-Schewel of Tin Fulton Walker & Owen in Charlotte, and Stuart M. Paynter and Gagan Gupta of Paynter Law in Hillsborough.

These lawyers are also involved with the pending lawsuits in Gaston and Alamance counties seeking the removal their Confederate monuments.

5 thoughts on “Coalition files lawsuit in effort to force Iredell commissioners to remove Confederate monument from county property

  1. John Kindley says:

    Where was Steve Shoemaker and the Iredell clergy when Iredell County Commissioners stopped prayers in Jesus name due to pressure from the ACLU?

    • Neal Grose says:

      We were in our church and homes praying to God, just as our Baptist ancestors demanded from the then new government.

  2. Does anyone really think taking down the statue will end racism? Nope, it will be on to their next battle, with the agenda on How to Blame White Conservatives for Everything and Look Like Horrible People.

  3. Attention seekers: I have read a copy of Margaret Ramsey’s letter, written when Stoneman was approaching Statesville. She described how the female students at Concord Academy, hid jewelry, put on all the clothes they had to look as unattractive as possible to the Yankees. All churches were closed on Sunday. Folks were hiding things all day long. the Yankees were burning and looting at will. Notice there was no mention of slavery in her letter.
    Rev. Lee, and Shoemaker. Since you need something to send your time on. Try counting in the Bible , the number of times, Slaves and Masters are mentioned.
    Mr. McCall Let’s review a resent event in Statesville, not something that happen almost 150 years ago. The event was the Tom Dula Play . There was a number of Black attendees at the play. Every person that entered the Old Courthouse had to walk by the statue, you claim is a reminder of slavery. Not once did I hear the subject mentioned. There was a greeter at the front steps of the old courthouse in Confederate Uniform , and an actor on stage in full Confederate Dress Uniform. No one complained. everyone seem to leave with the question, “Who killed Lura Foster .”
    You people did not complain about the statue, until possible paid protesters came to Statesville. You felt compelled to gather attention, and be identified with them.
    I am proud of the fact. I have searched for over thirty years, to find and record three slave cemeteries, long lost and forgotten about. The people are safe now.
    You want to distort facts, try this one . I have found two slave graves in the woods. The graves have large flat stones, placed over the people. That denotes that the person were well thought of and respected. There is another that, I have not found yet. His name is Titus. I understand his marker is a stone waist high.

    NO. I will not show you, were these people are buried. I do not think you have any respect for the dead.

    Sam Hall

  4. Douglas E Reed says:

    Slaves were never well thought of and respected. Removal of the statute will not end racism but it can begin the healing process. Just as removing a knife in someone’s back. We can’t heal until we remove the weapon used to hurt. During the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 the topic was slavery, the great topic of the day, that was tearing the nation apart.

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