Confederate monument issue goes to court
The North Carolina United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and the Historic Preservation Action Committee (HPAC) will go head-to-head in court Monday morning over theReidsville Confederate Monument.
By: Danielle Battaglia | GoDanRiver.com
Published: May 19, 2012
The North Carolina United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and the Historic Preservation Action Committee (HPAC) will go head-to-head in court Monday morning over the Reidsville Confederate Monument.
HPAC filed lawsuits against the City of Reidsville, the UDC, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) in April.
The issue began one year ago this Wednesday, when Mark Anthony Vincent of Greensboro drove his company’s vehicle into the monument. The solider on top of the monument was knocked off its pedestal and into Vincent’s van. The solider shattered and his head became embedded in the vehicle. It was later removed and placed in the Reidsville Public Works building for safekeeping.
HPAC spokesperson Ira Tilley explained in April the rationale behind the lawsuits and said, “Unfortunately, you know, the city took the monument down without going through the proper channels, which would have been to contact NCDCR and NCDOT,” Tilley said. “We’re having to bring the NCDCR and DOT into this because they ruled (in a declaratory ruling filed Dec. 7) we have no standing.”
In the same interview in April, Tilley said the UDC was being sued because, “she is maintaining, she meaning Ms. (Aileen) Ezell (President of the state UDC). maintains for some reason she thinks, I know partly why, Mr. (Michael) Pearce (Reidsville’s city manager) told her that they (the UDC) own the monument, but she believes in her heart for some reason that they own all the monuments in North Carolina and they don’t,” Tilley said. “It’s public property, which is why we’re having to include them.”
History since last May
In June, Confederate re-enactor Jamie Funkhouser appeared in the traffic circle where the monument once stood. He raised his Confederate flag in front of what remained of the monument to bring awareness to a city council meeting, allowing residents to speak their peace about what was to be done with the monument.
The meeting was held June 8. Mayor James Festerman said during this time, he wasn’t sure what the outcome would be regarding the monument because they were awaiting results of legal proceedings determining who really owned the monument. It was later determined the monument was owned by the North Carolina chapter of the UDC.
Moving the monument
On Aug. 9, the city announced via a press release that the UDC chose not to return the monument to the traffic circle. The press release said the UDC determined they would not ask the city to return the monument but would find a new location to move it to. In the meantime, the city planned to plant flowers in the circle.
On Aug. 23, an earthquake struck Mineral, Va., and its tremors were felt in Rockingham County. City officials realized the remains of the monument weren’t secure and the tremors brought awareness to the fact that the monument could pose a safety risk if it were to fall over. On Sept. 1, the city moved the rest of the monument to the public works building until the UDC decided what to do with the monument.
HPAC develops and UDC makes decisions
In September, HPAC was formed. The organization threatened a lawsuit in a letter to the city informing them the group feels the actions of both the UDC and the city were illegal. The group later retracted its statement saying no threat of a lawsuit was made.
In October, a new group formed called “No Monument.” Both HPAC and No Monument made appearances in the Reidsville Christmas Parade.
In December, the UDC announced in a press release it was going to move the monument to the Greenview Cemetery.
In January, HPAC asked for a declaratory ruling from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR). Both departments’ rulings came back in February saying the organization had no right to ask for a ruling because its members are not the people aggrieved by the accident.
In April, HPAC filed lawsuits against the city of Reidsville, the UDC, NCDOT and NCDCR.
The UDC was the first organization to respond to them, according to HPAC assistant spokesperson Diane Parnell. NCDCR and NCDOT both asked the court to dismiss the action in its entirety. The city of Reidsville responded last Monday, asking the courts to dismiss the lawsuit entirely and stating, “the plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.”
Parnell said the group is suing to get the monument put back and its members have no intention to back off until it happens. Parnell said if it takes voting in an entirely new city council and mayor, that’s what they’ll do to make it happen.
The UDC didn’t answer a request for a copy of its response to the lawsuit. The court case for HPAC vs. UDC is on the Rockingham County Courthouse calendar for 10 a.m. Monday.
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