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Race & Equity

Protesters Call For Removal Of Confederate Statue In Cornelius

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Maria Ramirez Uribe
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WFAE
Protesters gather in front of the Confederate statue in Cornelius and call for its removal

About 70 people gathered in Cornelius on Wednesday night for a rally calling for the removal of a Confederate monument in downtown. It’s been there for 111 years. Protesters marched from the Cornelius Town Hall to Mount Zion United Methodist Church.

They held up posters and chanted during the half mile walk.

“Take it down, take it down,” they said.

Community organizers, like Justin Miller, called for the statue’s removal. He says while he wishes this had happened a long time ago, he’s grateful people now realize the impact of Confederate symbols.

“Fear. It still has fear within me. To me it brings hate toward people who look like me, African-American, male,” Miller said. “But having everyone around me and different, you know, shapes and forms, it's empowering. I feel like that monster that you've been scared of your whole life. You finally got somebody with you to fight them.”

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Maria Ramirez Uribe
Community organizer Justin Miller says he was amazed by the diversity of the protesters in Cornelius on Wednesday night

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden also spoke at the event.

“We are here because we want to remove hate from America and we want to start with Cornelius. That’s why we’re here,” McFadden said. “If somebody says ‘Why did the Sheriff come?’ Because the Sheriff has courage to come. The Sheriff is not afraid. The Sheriff will stand for its people who voted for him. And I will tell you, you poke me and I’ll poke you back.”

The statue of a confederate soldier stands in front of the Mount Zion United Methodist Church but sits on private land owned by the Mount Zion Monument Association.

This isn’t the first time church leaders and community members have called for the statue’s removal. In June of last year, about 180 north Mecklenburg leaders and residents published an open letter to the private association that controls the statue.

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Maria Ramirez Uribe
The statue of a confederate soldier stands in front of the Mount Zion United Methodist Church but sits on private land owned by the Mount Zion Monument Association

Sue Rankin-White is a founding member of the racial advocacy group Unity in Community. She signed that open letter. And last night, called once again for the statue’s removal.

“Today is the anniversary of the dedication of this monument. So we thought it was very timely to have it today as our kickoff for our campaign to get the monument removed,” Rankin-White.

Rankin-White says the campaign will include community education, social media pushes and letter writing to the Mount Zion Monument Association.

The association’s chairman, Donald Archer, told the Charlotte Observer last year that the group was reviewing what to do with the statue, however nothing has happened since.

Cornelius Mayor Woody Washam was out of town, but he prepared a statement that was read at the rally. In it he called for the removal or relocation of the monument saying it was in the interest of public safety.