Sons of Confederate Veterans back out of Gaston County monument removal

Sons of Confederate Veterans back out of Gaston County monument removal

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — The Sons of Confederate Veterans were going to remove a Confederate monument from in front of the Gaston County Courthouse, but decided to back out.

The group said they believe it would hurt their court case if they accepted the removal of a Confederate monument while also fighting to keep another standing on public property.

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Those who want it gone said commissioners had the power to remove it but didn’t and it’s only increased tensions.

“It’s an abomination to our judicial system,” said founder of the Gaston County Freedom Fighters Jamal Gillespie.

Gillespie’s organization protested to have the monument removed. They cut back when commissioners began moving toward removing it.

He said “public trust has been taken advantage of completely” after the vote to keep it in front of the courthouse Tuesday night.

The monument has stood in front of the courthouse for more than 100 years.

A council of residents decided it should be removed and commissioners voted almost unanimously to do that, then a Neo-Confederate group dropped fliers at homes and held rallies and what seemed like a done deal was undone.

“Neither side can win at this point,” Gillespie said.

He said his group will resume protests, with full force.

Commissioner Ronnie Worley first pushed to remove the statue.

He said a commissioner worried that if they took it down without handing over possession, someone could contest it and they would be forced to pay to remove it and put it back.

He told me another group has approached commissioners about taking the monument as a gift.

Worley said the twist and turns have been frustrating even for commissioners.

His hope is that there will be something in place when commissioners meet meet late next month, until then the county pays to keep the monument safe. Worley believes extra patrols and officers at every rally may have cost taxpayer as much as $80,000.

Supporters hold rally Saturday at Gaston County Confederate statue