Salisbury community debates Confederate monument at city meeting

The Salisbury community came out in full force on Monday to debate what needs to be done with a controversial Confederate statue.

Tensions flared at the packed city meeting as residents debated the prominent presence of ‘The Fame.” 

Neighbors say this monument has brought a crisis to Salisbury. Some asked council to be on the right side of history while others argued that the past can’t be packed away. 

"This is way too painful to sit in the middle of our town,” Constant Love Johnson said. 

Some wore green signaling they want the statue to go and held signs reading #MoveFame.

“That is the tradition of black people in Rowan County. One day we are going to pull that statue down,” Johnson said. 

Others say it's not a statue for slavery, but stands to honor those who died in the Civil War. 
 
“The statue to me and most of my friends symbolizes a memorial to North Carolina people who died from the Civil War,” Keith Fowler said. 

“I would like to see the right thing done if anything can be done,” said Debra Ellison. 

The city attorney says moving the monument may be restricted because of a state law and rights granted by the city to The United Daughters of the Confederacy.  

"There’s a better place for it then where it is at,” Dan Paholskina said. 

Some say they agree with moving it, but want ‘The Fame’ placed somewhere that it can be admired with historical context.

“I would like to see people coming together and making a decision that we all can live with,” Ellison said. 

After the meeting, FOX 46 spoke with Salisbury Mayor Al Heggins. She said the big take away tonight is context: City council will think about all the voices they heard. Some neighbors also pointed out tonight’s meeting fell of the anniversary of the Charleston Nine shooting.