WILMINGTON — In the early morning hours of Thursday, city workers removed two Confederate statues from their bases in downtown Wilmington, taking them to an undisclosed location.
While the bases and inscriptions remain, the city removed the statue of George Davis from the Market Street median and the Soldiers of the Confederacy statue from the Third Street median, both near the intersection of Third and Market streets in the heart of downtown Wilmington.
The removal took place between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. While it was not preceded by any notice or announcement by the city, a spokesperson did address the removal early Thursday morning.
According to the city, the move is temporary and is aimed at both protecting the monuments from damage from protestors who would like to see them taken down permanently and, by the same token, to protect those protestors or bystanders who could be injured in the process of attempting to dismantle the statues by force.
“While members of the community have expressed a desire to see these monuments moved for many years, recent protests and controversy over these monuments has grown to a point that the monuments, in their original locations, were a threat to public safety. A state of emergency (separate and distinct from the COVID-19 state of emergency) has been in effect in the city for several weeks in response to the protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. In light of growing controversy around the monuments, a curfew on pedestrian activity in the vicinity of these two monuments has been in place since Saturday, June 20. This underscores the need to temporarily move these monuments in accordance with NC law, which requires state approval for any monument of remembrance to be permanently moved but allows an exception for temporary removal in the interest of public safety,” according to the city.
The move comes on the night following the firing of three officers by the Wilmington Police Department for making racists comments and threats. The largely unprecedented announcement included detailed information about the officers’ behavior that, under normal circumstances, would be kept from the public under the state’s strict personnel records law.