Durham County

How much is a Confederate statue worth? Political group says $0.

The Confederate statue in front of the old Durham County courthouse was toppled by protesters on Aug. 14. Its remains are now in a county warehouse. People’s Alliance, which endorsed all five county commissioners, wants them to value it at zero dollars.
The Confederate statue in front of the old Durham County courthouse was toppled by protesters on Aug. 14. Its remains are now in a county warehouse. People’s Alliance, which endorsed all five county commissioners, wants them to value it at zero dollars. vbridges@heraldsun.com

The largest political group in Durham, People’s Alliance, is calling on county officials to value the crumpled Confederate statue at zero dollars.

Because the statue was on county property, Durham County Commissioners are involved in the decision about the future of the crumpled statue in a warehouse, the monument’s base that remains, and the future of both. Durham received national attention when the Confederate soldier statue dedicated in 1924 in front of the then-courthouse, was toppled on Aug. 14 by protesters.

The marble base remains out front of what is now the county administration building, dedicated to “the boys who wore the gray.” Confederate soldiers wore gray uniforms during the Civil War. Commissioners meet in that building.

In a letter to commissioners Wendy Jacobs, James Hill, Heidi Carter, Brenda Howerton and Ellen Reckhow, who were all endorsed by the People’s Alliance PAC, commissioners were urged to give the Durham district attorney a value of zero dollars for the statue.

The People’s Alliance explained that “while the estimated cost of replacement may be higher, the harms to the community presented by the symbolism of the statue give it no value.”

The letter, signed by People’s Alliance Board and Race Equity Team, also urges commissioners not to replace the statue and to ask the district attorney to not require the protesters to pay restitution.

“If you cannot make all or any these commitments, we ask that you please provide an explanation for us to share with our membership ... As we previously shared with you, PA views the removal of the Confederate statue an act of civil disobedience by activists committed to dismantling white supremacy and removing symbols of hate. This action has created a pivotal moment for us all to choose how we will respond and for our elected officials to choose how they will lead,” the letter states.

The PA also reminded commissioners of its prior endorsements.

“When the PA members endorsed each of you for County Commission, it was with the belief that you would take bold progressive leadership and stand on the side of justice and equity. We view this as a pivotal moment for you to display this leadership,” the People’s Alliance wrote.

When county commissioners were expected to discuss the statue during a closed session at their Aug. 28 meeting, they came out, adjourned, had no comment and said they were waiting on legal advice and staff work. Jacobs echoed that to The Herald-Sun on Friday.

Jacobs was the only commissioner on Friday to respond to a Herald-Sun request for commissioners’ response to the People’s Alliance letter. Jacobs responded via email that “our staff is currently researching and collecting information for our board. We will need the opportunity to review and discuss this collectively.” Then they’ll tell the public. She did not offer a time frame.

On Friday, the North Carolina Historical Commission postponed a decision on the future of Raleigh Confederate monuments.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan

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