“It has to go”: People on both sides of debate talk about Pitt Co. statue removal

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A controversial petition calling for the removal of the confederate statue outside the Pitt County Courthouse is gaining a lot of support.

Kristoffer Rixon posted the petition Monday, and as of Tuesday afternoon, it already has 800 backers.

In it, Rixon said, “it is our assertion that this statue subverts and undermines our core principles of liberty and justice for all. It is unconscionable that anyone going to the courthouse, a place promising equal justice for all, should be forced to do so under a shadow of injustice and suppression.”

In an interview with WNCT on Tuesday, Rixon said removing the statue isn’t about erasing history, but rather not celebrating the bad in a public space.

“This shouldn’t be something you have to vote about because these are relics and monuments to hatred, slavery and racism,” he said.

He went on to give the example of other countries that have had a dark past.

“If you go to Germany today, you do not see any monument or relics of Nazi Germany,” Rixon said.

Other supports say they would be fine with moving the statue to a Confederate museum, but don’t feel it belongs in a public space.

“I feel like there’s no place for a confederate statue in Pitt County or anywhere in the United States,” said Matthew Roberts.

The idea of removing Confederate statues has become extremely polarizing across the country.

One side argues the statues pay respect to those who have gone before them and represent important parts of history. However, the other side argues it raises ideals of racism and hatred up on a pedestal.

The controversy surrounding statues was most recently seen in Charlottesville, Virginia. ECU student Caleb Burroughs was there to see the violence firsthand.

“I expected Charlottesville police to be doing their job, but they were not,” Burroughs said.

During the movement, he actually was struck in the face by a flag pole, carried by a group of white supremacist.

“I got hit because I refused to move out of the way,” he said.

But in North Carolina, there is a big hurdle those wanting to remove statues must jump over. According to state law, signed back in 2015 by then Governor Pat McCrory, removing statues requires the permission of the state. While Governor Roy Cooper advocated for a repeal of the law in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon, it is currently still on the books.

“We couldn’t do it because of the state law,” said Pitt County Commissioner Glen Webb, who is against removing the statue to begin with.

He said he doesn’t see this petition going beyond Monday’s meeting since it is out of their hands. He said he does support, however, erecting a new monument that symbolizes North Carolina’s diverse past.

“We don’t have enough statues denoting different parts of our history,” he said.

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