Statesville sees 50th straight night of protests over Confederate statue

STATESVILLE, N.C. — Opposing groups have been protesting and counter-protesting over a Confederate statue in Statesville, which has stood since 1905. Thursday was the 50th straight night of demonstrations.

There have been calls for the removal of statues across the country since George Floyd’s death at the hands of police nearly three months ago in Minneapolis. Some say the monuments represent history and heritage, while others argue they represent racial injustice from the nation’s past.

Statesville police made several arrests Wednesday night after the police chief said the group became disruptive.

“This is the people’s house. This is where people come to engage in government proceedings. Statesville is not only white. I am white and I am offended, so certainly people of color clearly are offended,” protester Storm Onole said.

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Onole said she has been at the protests for all 50 days. But Wednesday, she was forced to leave earlier than expected when police arrested her and three others.

“They were dead-set on arresting me first. They were thrilled to pieces to have Storm in handcuffs,” she said.

Onole said she was exercising her First Amendment rights. Chief David Addison said she was being disruptive.

“We want everyone’s voices to be heard. That is very important to us but we want it to be not in a disruptive manner that took away from their message,” Addison said.

He said most of the protesters have been peaceful and his department wants to make sure they stay that way. The group has drawn counter-protesters nearly every night, who want the monument to stay in its place.

“The Confederate statue needs to stay where it is. My great-great-grandfather died in the Civil War protecting for what’s right,” Terry Causey told Channel 9.

While the protesters want to see the statue come down, they said they would be satisfied if it was just taken somewhere else, such as a nearby cemetery where Confederate veterans are buried.

Some feel it is not only more appropriate but also safer there.

“This could be people coming down here like in other cities -- destroying it and stuff. That way it will be in one piece when it goes down,” protester Sierra Patterson said.

People on both sides think leaders need to step up.

“They refuse to put it on their agenda. We can’t get it on the agenda because we aren’t important,” Onole said.

Iredell County leaders said there are currently no plans for a public hearing dedicated to discussing the future of the statue.

“I think the best thing for America is everyone to come together and talk peacefully,” Causey said.

The city said it is working on creating a curfew around the monument. Below is the city’s statement:

We are working with Iredell County Sherriff’s Office and county commissioners to provide a curfew which prohibits anyone to be around the statue or grounds surrounding it. This will reduce the conflicts and allow law enforcement to make arrests for anyone in violation of the curfew until the county commissioners decide what action is allowed. We are also asking the magistrates to provide appropriate bonds.