RALEIGH – “Objects of remembrance” will have state protections in Senate Bill 22, which is headed to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk. Those objects include memorials, monuments, flags and historic documents. Under the new measure, local governments will have to get approval from the N.C. Historical Commission before displaying or moving objects on government-owned property. The measure bans permanent removal of monuments unless they are moved to a location of “similar prominence.” The bill passed the Senate in April, before the controversy surrounding the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina courthouse.
“I fear that people are viewing history in the wrong context,” said Rep. John Blust (R-Greensboro) on the House floor. “Embrace history. Don’t forget it. We have to preserve history, even the bad parts. If it’s lost, we are losing educational tools too… the beauty of history is how many people fought and died for the preservation of freedom.”
The bill’s passage came after long, emotional debate and failed amendments that attempted to remove the measure from the House calendar. Members queued up to speak on both sides of the bill.
“If your intention is to hold up the collective memory of sacrifice, you have to recognize that those monuments are being used as rallying points for people whose values are abhorrent,” said Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Durham).
The bill also moves power over historical documents and tattered flags to the Department of Cultural Resources and the N.C. Secretary of State. The passage comes the morning after a women’s Confederate monument was defaced with spray paint in front of the N.C. Capitol building.