RALEIGH, N.C. (CN) – North Carolina’s Historical Commission on Wednesday decided three controversial Confederate monuments will remain standing at the old State Capitol two days after protestors toppled another on the University of North Carolina’s Chapel Hill campus.
Students had long objected to the presence of the statue, known as “Silent Sam,” but it wasn’t until Monday night, at the height of a protest, that they actually brought it down.
Critics of the bronze statue of a Confederate soldier said it symbolized the history of racism in the state. Others described it as a tribute to their fallen ancestors.
In an online statement, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor condemned the actions of demonstrators who toppled the statue, saying they were “unlawful” and “dangerous,” but the incident did serve to bring an ongoing debate over the other monuments to a head.
In 2017, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and the state’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources petitioned the Historical Commission for the removal of the Confederate Women’s Monument, the Confederate Soldiers Monument, and the Henry Lawson Wyatt Monument from the old State Capitol grounds in Raleigh.
Cooper suggested the monuments the monuments be moved to nearby the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site, but the commission postponed a decision to allow a subcommittee to consider the issue and collect public comment.
On Wednesday, the commission voted 10-1 to keep the monuments in place, but to augment the sites around them with additional information about slavery and the Civil War to add to the public’s knowledge of what they represent.
The commission announced it also plans to initiate the construction of a memorial to honor the state’s black citizens.