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OXFORD — County leaders agreed to take down a statue of a Confederate soldier that has stood in Oxford for more than a century.
Crews began removing the statue Wednesday morning. It was taken off its pillar just before 11:30 a.m., to the cheers of a gathered crowd, although an onlooker voiced his opposition to taking the statue down.
The statue will be kept in storage until the county decides where to move it.
The decision to take down the statue came during an emergency meeting of the Granville County Board of Commissioners on Monday, where the board entered a closed session to meet with its attorney and to discuss public safety matters.
"We cannot let an inanimate object of concrete and bronze become a flashpoint of violence and division in our community," the board said in a statement released Wednesday.
Six commissioners signed an Order of Removal, saying the statue “poses a threat to the public safety due to credible threats against it from groups seeking its forcible removal.”
Forcible, unprofessional removal could cause an “extremely unsafe condition” because of the size and weight of the statue, the statement says.
The commissioners also note that some peaceful protests in North Carolina and elsewhere in the nation have turned violent and caused injury to citizens and law enforcement.
The order was signed by Chairman David Smith, Sue Hinman, Zelodius Jay, Tony Cozart, Tim Karan and Edgar Smoak and approved by county attorney Jim Wrenn.
The statue was erected in 1909, 44 years after the end of the Civil War. It was later in front of the county library in Oxford.
The vote came amid a national reckoning with racist symbols that has prompted debate over heritage, history and hate. Statues tied to the Confederacy or white supremisist have been removed in recent weeks either by official order or the hand of protestors.
In Raleigh over the weekend, Gov. Roy Cooper ordered the removal of a statue of a Confederate soldier on the grounds of the state Capitol.
A speaker called for the removal of the Granville County statue during the commissioner’s regular meeting last week.
“The monument and statue represent nothing less than white supremacy, hatred, selfishness, evilness and invasion, Jim Crow, intimidation — and that’s just to name a few,” the citizen, Janelle Marable, told commissioners.
“Oxford has come a long way. Granville County has come a long way. And I know we, as Oxford residents and Oxford citizens, no longer need this monument and statue to represent deplorable times in our history.”