Monument stirs debate at City Hall
By COREY DAVIS
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
The ongoing issue of the removal of the Confederate monument at Battle Park was among the topics addressed by the public Monday during an intense Rocky Mount City Council meeting.
Residents Curmilus Dancy, vice president of the Rocky Mount branch of the NAACP, and Bronson Williams requested the immediate removal of the statue. Williams, who attended the City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, talked about how the process has been too slow since other cities across the country have done it already.
Gov. Roy Cooper recently sent a formal request to have three Confederate monuments relocated from the State Capitol grounds to a historic site in Johnston County.
“I have a great concern for the decision to remove the monument in our area has been delayed, and now we’re waiting for our human relations commission to further look into this matter. I just don’t see what it is we’re looking further into. I know it’s a monument and marker of division. It’s filled with hatred and racism. How do we allow this symbol to shine like a light in our city? It just behooves me.”
Randy Adcox, a supporter of the statue, offered what he said he hopes can be a meeting in the middle on the matter. Adcox expressed how the Confederate monuments in North Carolina are protected by a 2015 state law and the city would have a difficult time having it removed because of that reason.
“I don’t doubt anyone’s passion, sincerity or commitment, but I came in the spirit of compromise of what we need as a community,” Adcox said. “It’s important to at least try to understand each other. That monument was errected in my mind to honor veterans, and I’m a veteran. That monument sits on the edge of an acre of land. With that land going back into the park, my compromise is that it’s enough room to have that monument pushed back towards the (U.S.) 64 overpass bridge, and there are 50- to 60-foot trees that will hide it. It will be hidden out of view and you won’t see it unless you’re walking the trail.”
During the meeting, council members approved several items, including leasing a seven-acre island to Rocky Mount Dam, a limited liability corporation that’s part of the Capitol Broadcasting Co., which is renovating Rocky Mount Mills. The council approved Capitol Broadcasting to pay $1 per year for 25 years with one additional automatic renewal unless terminated. The lisland is located in the Tar River below the Mills.
Discussion on the matter had been deferred from three provious council meetings. Councilman Reuben Blackwell said he appreciates Capitol Broadcasting Co. for working with the council through matters that needed to be addressed.
“Nobody should think they should come to an elected body and just think somebody is going do whatever they want to do,” he said. “We’re here to ask questions, and Capitol Broadcasting has been understanding of the process and we’ve been working together. Our job is to protect the whole public, and those issues we had were legitimate questions, issues — and we worked through it. We wanted full consensus and I believe we have it.”