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Confederate Statue at Chatham Courthouse Removed by Official Act

Dozen Arrested at Protest Week Before


by: Tristan Dufresne,

PITTSBORO, N.C. — During the early morning hours of Wednesday, November 20, Chatham County Sheriff’s deputies removed a memorial to Confederate soldiers from outside the historic downtown Pittsboro courthouse.

The statue was ordered removed by a vote of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners August 19. Commissioners attested the statue was the property of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and that if the UDC ignored the November 1 deadline to remove the statue, they would consider the statue to be trespassing on public property.

Local law enforcement officials received the call to begin making plans to remove the 112-year-old statue of a Confederate soldier at 7:30 Tuesday evening. The process took until sunrise the following day.

The week before, on Wednesday, November 13, Superior Court Judge Susan Bray denied a request filed by the Winnie Davis Chapter of The United Daughters of the Confederacy to prevent officials from taking the statue down. Bray said the UDC could not prove any "irreparable harm" if the monument were moved.

The removal took place three days after the arrest of 11 demonstrators and counter-protesters at the site.

Reports from eyewitnesses on November 16 indicate that violence began when pro-Confederate protestors sitting in a pickup truck began yelling at counter-demonstrators to get away from their vehicle. One supporter of the statue then punched opponent Calvin Megginson, who struck back, igniting the already-intense situation and leading to a melee, at which point the police intervened.

Megginson and Allan Hall, an activist, were handcuffed, arrested and led away from the area. Megginson was charged with assaulting a woman during the affray and assessed a $1,000 secured bond by the magistrate.

Megginson was arrested twice that Saturday, first given a written summons to appear in court and the second time being taken into custody.

Hall, an activist, was charged with inciting a riot and simple affray.

Others arrested include Robert Butler, who has long been a vocal supporter of allowing the statue to remain in place. Butler was charged with inciting a riot. Chapel Hill resident Lindsay Ayling was charged with simple assault. She, along with another arrestee, Maya Little, were active in the movement to remove the Silent Sam Statue from the UNC Chapel Hill campus.

Little was charged with simple affray, inciting a riot and felony malicious conduct by a prisoner (occurring after her arrest). The latter charge stems from "emitting bodily fluid" at a corrections officer in performance of his duty. A police officer wishing not to be named identified the fluid as blood or spittle. She was assessed a $10,000 secured bond.

"The safety of the public remains our number one concern," Chatham County Sheriff Captain Chris Cooper told media in a statement in which he encouraged "all members of the public to treat each other with respect and refrain from aggressive conduct toward one another."

Chief Deputy Charles Gardner, who gave his own statement, told the press, "We respect every resident’s right to peacefully assemble in nonviolent protest or [in] support of their beliefs. However, unlawful or violent behavior will not be tolerated."

A Chatham County law enforcement officer who wishes to remain anonymous spoke to the Sundial after the scuffle and before the statue was taken down. "None of the politicians here have the will to fight this battle, nor are they willing to provide us with sufficient resources to do our jobs correctly.

"The court system also is not backing us in a way to effectively combat the attempts at mob rule," he continued. “This isn't a battle we can win under the conditions that exist on the ground.

"The statue needs to come down."

And so it did.

Remaining at the site of the removed statue on November 26, were some flowers — a plastic bouquet, a real rose — and an unsigned note in a plastic bag that read in part, “Slavery is a part of our country’s history, however shameful it may be. It cannot be erased. The statue which stood here reminded us of where we have come from. It reminded us of how we have grown. It reminded us of where not to go back to.”

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