A Confederate statue that stood in downtown Winston-Salem for more than 100 years is gone.

Crews carefully placed a support structure and harnesses around the soldier before he was hoisted off the pedestal. As he was, a few in the crowd cheered.

Chris Lutz, of Winston-Salem, blew several times on a vuvuzela.

“I’m excited that it’s down,” he said, wearing a pin that read, "anti-racists run this town."

Confederate statue

Mayor Allen Joines (top right, in yellow vest) watches as the soldier is removed from the top of the Confederate monument at the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets, Tuesday, March 12, 2019.

Confederate statue

Howard Snow shoots video of the gathering as workers prepare to remove the Confederate monument at the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets.

Confederate statue

John Rogers speaks to kick off a gathering of 20 people who came Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the removal of the monument.

“I didn’t expect the city to actually follow-through and do it. Hopefully, they’ll continue to do the right thing.”

By 4 p.m. both the statue and the pedestal had been moved to a storage facility, where they will remain until being placed in Salem Cemetery. The storage location is not being announced for security reasons.

Cranes and removal crews had arrived before 7 a.m. to begin the work, closing parts of Liberty and Fourth streets. Several officers stood on Fourth Street at the Old County Courthouse throughout the day as a precaution.

The statue was examined by an out-of-state specialist prior to removal, said City Manager Lee Garrity. It's in nine sections and was removed carefully to ensure it wasn't damaged.

Many people walking by on the street Tuesday stopped to take photos or videos of the statue's removal.

Paul Jeffcoat, of Winston-Salem, stayed from about 8 a.m. until the soldier was removed.

"I'm happy it’s getting moved. It should have never been down here in the first place," he said. "It just represents hatred and racism. Confederacy is hate, and we don't need it at the courthouse. There's too much hate in the world anyway. I'm glad this day has come."

Mayor Allen Joines said the statue needed to be removed from its location for public safety reasons and because it sits on private property and the owner, Winston Courthouse LLC, requested its removal.

Joines said Salem Cemetery, the privately-owned cemetery near Old Salem where the statue will be moved, has 36 Confederate graves and is a suitable location for it.

"It's a very dignified location," he said.

It will likely be months before the statue will be placed in the cemetery, Joines said, because the site has to be prepared and the concrete will need to be poured.

The city is paying to remove the statue. An estimate was not immediately available Tuesday.

Garrity said Tuesday was selected as the day to remove the statue because it worked well for the contractor.

The statue was erected in 1905 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy as a memorial to the Civil War dead here.

The Confederate statue has been a flashpoint in the community, with people supporting and opposing its removal.

On Tuesday, John Rogers of Bethania, with Hate Outta Winston, came with posters to support the move.

"I came today to celebrate it coming down. Our hard work's paying off to get it to come down," he said. "It's just the beginning of a conversation with the city. It feels great. We don't often have tangible results, but we know there's a lot more work to be done."

Ethan Shelkey of Kernersville said he agreed with the statue's removal.

"I think it didn't happen soon enough," Shelkey said. "The statue (was) extremely problematic."

Howard Snow, with Heirs to the Confederacy, said he came Tuesday to pay honor to the statue.

"It's an American veteran monument for the dead who never came home," he said, adding that two of his relatives fought in the war.

He said he's been to other cities in support of their Civil War monuments, including Silent Sam in Chapel Hill. Snow said Winston-Salem should focus on other things.

"What the city's spending on this monument, it could be spent on other things. It's got street issues, housing issues, employment issues," he said. "It's disgusting to me for the city to do this."

Mez Guerch of Winston-Salem said he opposed the statue's removal.

"You can tear down a statue, but you aren't going to change history," Guerch said. 

The removal of the statue comes amid a lawsuit regarding the move.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy has filed suit against the city, Forsyth County and the owner of the property where the statue stands, challenging the legality of the removal effort.

The statue is on the site of the former Forsyth County Courthouse, which was sold to a private developer in 2014 and converted into luxury apartments. The sale excluded the statue and other monuments on the property.

The UDC maintains that the statue is owned by Forsyth County, and thus cannot be moved because of a state law, passed in 2015, that forbids the removal of publicly owned monuments.

City and county officials say the UDC owns the statue. The UDC claimed ownership until recently.

The city and the owner of the courthouse, Winston Courthouse LLC, have both called for the removal of the statue, saying that the controversy over the statue threatens public safety and the peaceful enjoyment of the property by apartment renters.

The UDC failed to get a temporary restraining order at the end of January to stop the removal of the statue, and the city said it would proceed with plans to move it.

More recently, the UDC amended its lawsuit and called once more for judge to stop the removal of the statue.

The UDC says it will try to force the city to put the statue back at the former courthouse if the city moves it before the hearing on March 25 concerning that group's effort to get an injunction.

Joines said the city proceeded with the removal of the statue Tuesday because it thought it, "was fully authorized to do so."

"We did this carefully," Joines said. "We saw what happened in Charlottesville. We're trying to respect both sides. This is a very difficult situation with strong feelings on both sides."

The group, Get Hate Outta Winston, staged a rally on Fourth Street after the statue had been removed. About 20 demonstrators, who participated in the event, chanted "We are unstoppable - a better world is possible" and "The people united will never be defeated."

Destiny Blackwell, a student at Winston-Salem State University and a member of Get Hate Outta Winston, told the demonstrators to enjoy their victory in the statue's removal.

"We are on the right side of history," Blackwell said. "We get to tear down white supremacy and build up black history and the achievements of black people."

Winston-Salem Journal reporters Wes Young and John Hinton contributed to this story.



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