N.C. Governor Approves Ban On Removing Statues From Public Property North Carolina's governor signed a bill banning the removal of monuments on public property. The bill took on new life after the Charleston, S.C., shootings sparked debate about the Confederate flag.
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N.C. Governor Approves Ban On Removing Statues From Public Property

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N.C. Governor Approves Ban On Removing Statues From Public Property

N.C. Governor Approves Ban On Removing Statues From Public Property

N.C. Governor Approves Ban On Removing Statues From Public Property

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North Carolina's governor signed a bill banning the removal of monuments on public property. The bill took on new life after the Charleston, S.C., shootings sparked debate about the Confederate flag.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The governor of North Carolina has just signed a law that prohibits taking down any historical statue on public property. This comes as communities across the South discuss whether to remove Confederate monuments, a debate which intensified after the Charleston church killings. The suspect there had posed in photos with Confederate battle flags. From member station WUNC, Jorge Valencia reports on the debate in North Carolina over how to remember the Civil War.

JORGE VALENCIA: In April, the North Carolina Senate approved what seemed like a simple bill to honor the state's history. It outlined a respectful way to dispose of old, tattered flags. It set up a plan to publicly display the state constitution, and it got unanimous support, but after the shootings in June...

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Confederate monuments across the queen city are being targeted by...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The latest graffiti protest was found in downtown Durham today.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Spray-painted on the statue - black lives matter - murderer - KKK.

VALENCIA: Police found graffiti on statues in front of courthouses, on a college campus, even in North Carolina State capitol grounds. So by the time House lawmakers took up the historic artifacts bill, the content was the same, but public opinion was not.

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NATHAN BASKERVILLE: Now, I don't claim to speak on behalf of all black folks.

VALENCIA: Representative Nathan Baskerville is a Democrat from rural Vance County.

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BASKERVILLE: But, you know, I talked to my whole family about it and they're all black and they share some of the sentiments that I'm going to share with y'all this afternoon.

VALENCIA: Baskerville told his colleagues he opposed one section of the bill - the part that outlawed removing any monuments from public property. For Baskerville, that means none of the 120 Confederate monuments in North Carolina can ever be taken down. He says that reminds him of oppression.

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BASKERVILLE: Whether that be from slavery, whether that be from Jim Crow, but that is our history. That is our heritage as it relates to these monuments and markers commemorating the Confederacy.

VALENCIA: Which, Republican supporters say, is an incomplete view. Here's Representative John Blust.

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JOHN BLUST: I think the opposition is taking things in history in the present context and they want it to be condemned when it should be seen in the vast tapestry that led this country to greatness.

VALENCIA: Blust says governments should preserve even the darkest parts of history - that is, instead of destroying monuments.

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BLUST: That's the kind of things ISIS does. They take over something - Palmyra a few weeks ago - and they destroy all the historical artifacts. We should preserve them, be proud of them, know them in their context, know that there were people - we had to fight a great civil war.

VALENCIA: Mississippi and Tennessee already have similar monument preservation laws, but North Carolina's is more strict. In the end, the vote was almost entirely along party lines - Republicans in favor, Democrats against. Governor Pat McCory, who is a Republican, signed the bill the same day it landed on his desk. For NPR News, I'm Jorge Valencia in Raleigh.

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