Family Member of Robert E. Lee Joins Fight to Have Confederate Statue Removed

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The sun rises behind the Robert E. Lee statue, where streets are closed ahead of expected protests in Richmond, Virginia on January 17, 2021. - Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists, possibly carrying explosives, pose a threat to Washington as well as state capitals over the coming week.
The sun rises behind the Robert E. Lee statue, where streets are closed ahead of expected protests in Richmond, Virginia on January 17, 2021. - Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists, possibly carrying explosives, pose a threat to Washington as well as state capitals over the coming week.

That we even have to debate whether a statue of Robert E. Lee should exist tells us how backwards many people in America are. Of course, four years of Donald Trump and his racism certainly didn’t help.

If people are willing to travel to Washington, D.C., to take down the government, they certainly aren’t going to stand by and let one of the symbols of their hate be taken down.

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But in Iredell County, N.C., some residents have filed a lawsuit asking that a Confederate monument of Lee be taken down and one of the supporters is a descendant of the separatist general, according to the News & Observer.

The Rev. Robert Wright “Rob” Lee IV of Statesville, a fourth great-nephew of Lee, joined the residents and organizations calling on Iredell County to take down the statue from government property in downtown Statesville. He rightfully called it “a celebration of white supremacy and racism.”

A pastor and an author, Lee has been an outspoken critic of Confederate memorials. He wrote in a June column for the Washington Post that the Confederacy is racist and should be made clear to the public.

“(It’s) something we Southerners are never taught,” he wrote. “The Civil War was fought for states’ rights to enslave African people in the United States of America.”

Lee said in his statement for the lawsuit that the statue makes it difficult to bring visitors to downtown Statesville.

“Especially if they are people of color,” he said. “Especially if they know the history.”

The complaint was filed Tuesday by attorneys from Statesville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, San Francisco and Washington and demands that Iredell courts order the Iredell Board of County Commissioners to remove the statue from the grounds of the Government Center.

The memorial, like hundreds like it, is a symbol of the South’s defeat in the Civil War.

Here is more on what is happening with the lawsuit, according to the News & Observer:

On March 2, the commissioners appeared to begin the process of finding the statue a new home.

Two weeks later, the board backtracked. According to the Iredell Free News, commission Chairman James Mallory said the earlier 4-1 vote had been misconstrued — that the commissioners had expressed only a willingness to work with the United Daughters of the Confederacy if the group decided to move the statue. Instead, the UDC refused.

“The Iredell County Board of Commissioners is not moving the Confederate monument,” Mallory said.

Now, Mallory has been named in the lawsuit, along with fellow commissioners Melissa Neader, Marvin Norman, Gene Houpe and Scottie Brown. The complaint also lists Iredell County as a defendant.

Mallory did not respond to an Observer email seeking comment Tuesday.

Lee and the other plaintiffs, including state and local chapters of the NAACP, the Iredell Clergy for Healing and Justice along with Christopher “Skip” McCall, a longtime Black resident of Statesville, argue that the statute has become a magnet for violence and crime, and that the cost of maintaining and protecting it is an unconstitutional expense on taxpayers.

They also say that by letting the statute stand, the defendants are both violating equal-protection guarantees and racially discriminating against Black residents, among other claims.

The complaint not only calls for the removal of the statue from the Government Center grounds but wants it banned from being relocated on any piece of county-owned or controlled property.

Well, we hope that the locals can come to their senses and remove that statue so people can move on from the racism it represents. Thing is, many people do not want to move on from racism because they benefit from it and any symbol that reflects that is something racists will protect until the very end.

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