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Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People and Durham NAACP call for removal of all Confederate symbols

Once again, the world bore witness to the ugly underbelly of this country's racial history. Due to the alarming nature of the incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia, along with the deficient and inappropriate response from the White House, The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People and the Durham branch NAACP feel it is imperative that we speak out.

The Durham Committee and the Durham NAACP stand firmly with those who oppose all neo-Nazi, alt-right, white supremacists and sympathizers who marched in Charlottesville and across the country. We denounce the actions taken by groups who continue to mask their hatred of Black people, Hispanic people, Jews and other various marginalized groups, under the guise that they are preserving American values and culture.

We grieve the loss of Heather Heyer and others who stood in peaceful protest of hate and racism. We applaud the witnesses and disruptors who continue to work to bring these perpetrators to justice.

The actions taken by this mob dials back to a time in our history where white supremacy was empowered by the government and celebrated freely and publicly. Clearly our government has given this group the leeway to do the same things now, in 2017. Well the DCABP and the Durham NAACP believe that with the support of our community we can send the message that we will not tolerate this hate. We will not tolerate this violence against our humanity and we will not elect a government that perpetuates those views. Let this be the time when we rise up to and stand in solidarity with the fearless ones who fight at the front lines against racism.

The committee and the Durham NAACP understand the emotion, rage, and frustration that fueled the vandalism the confederate statue here in Durham, as these quote "monuments" are a constant reminder of the racist and prejudiced ideologies that still plague this city and the state. While we do not encourage acts which violate the law, we understand the desire to fight back against the notion that these symbols of hatred should be memorialized in our city. If we are to heal and move forward together we must agree that the atrocities of our past should neither be celebrated nor further perpetuated in OUR city of Durham.

With this in mind, the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People and the Durham NAACP makes this official request to the elected officials of both the county and city government. With great earnestness and expediency, we request the immediate removal of all Confederate memorials, flags, statues, memorabilia, plaques, certificates, or any other commemorative objects which exist on city or county property.

This request is made in memory of those who have lost their lives in the fight against racism and white supremacy here in Durham, in Charlottesville and other parts of this country. It is made remembering the millions of enslaved African people who endured years of torture and brutality, who built this nation brick by brick, bale by bale, AND survived to produce generations of Americans who continue to make this nation stronger.

It is our hope that the removal of these Confederate items sends an emphatic message that bigotry, racism and white supremacy is not condoned, tolerated, encouraged, or accepted in the city of Durham. This city and county have a history of leading the way in North Carolina towards equality and freedom. We must remember the bravery of our past and act swiftly to squelch any attempt to spread hatred and cut if off at the pass now.

Again, we stand in solidarity with all of Durham's citizens against racism, hate and all other divisive ideologies to support a North Carolina where we are safe, protected and can call our home

Omar S. Beasley is the chairman of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. Roland W. Staton Jr. is the president of the Durham NAACP.