Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted tonight to deny the Town of Sylva’s request to remove the Confederate monument located on the steps leading up to the Jackson County Public Library. The motion also called to cover up the Confederate Flag and the phrase “Heroes of the Confederacy” and replace it with a plaque naming the Jackson County citizens who fought in the Civil War.
Gayle Woody addressed the board and said that she couldn’t vote to remove the monument as state law prohibits the removal of monuments.
The relevant section of the statute (100-2.1. Protection of monuments, memorials, and works of art) reads: “A monument, memorial, or work of art owned by the State may not be removed, relocated, or altered in any way without the approval of the North Carolina Historical Commission.”
The law further states, in subsection (b): “An object of remembrance located on public property may not be permanently removed and may only be relocated, whether temporarily or permanently, under the circumstances listed in this subsection and subject to the limitations in this subsection. An object of remembrance that is temporarily relocated shall be returned to its original location within 90 days of completion of the project that required its temporary removal. An object of remembrance that is permanently relocated shall be relocated to a site of similar prominence, honor, visibility, availability, and access that are within the boundaries of the jurisdiction from which it was relocated. An object of remembrance may not be relocated to a museum, cemetery, or mausoleum unless it was originally placed at such a location.”
Commissioner Boyce Deitz spoke through his emotion by saying that he believes nothing will change until people’s hearts change – which other county leaders agreed with.
The vote to keep the monument in the same location, with changes to the front of it came after hours of public comment from citizens both for and against the monument. One call during public comment period came from a citizen on the courthouse steps, who said that protesters were forming around the statute and law enforcement had been called to maintain order.
Jackson County Commissioner Chairman Brian McMahan made the motion and Mickey Luker seconded it, which passed 4-1, with Ron Mau voted against it.