Hearing on Confederate monument continued to April 29

0
158
Workers remove the Confederate monument from downtown Winston-Salem earlier this month. (file photo)

A Forsyth County judge has continued a motion by the United Daughters of the Confederacy for a preliminary injunction to restore the Confederate monument to its former location in downtown Winston-Salem.

Superior Court Judge Stanley Allen told lawyers for the parties that he’ll hold a hearing on the case on April 29. Judge Allen had previously granted a continuance at the request of the UDC to motions to dismiss filed by defendants, including the city of Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, and the owner of the property where the monument was formerly located. Lawyers for the defendants told the judge that they had understood the previous continuance to include the motion for a preliminary injunction as well.

Judge Allen said in writing the order he “was contemplating” that it would include all motions, not just the motions to dismiss.

In the meantime, the UDC filed a second amended motion for a preliminary injunction on March 20. In the motion, the UDC argues that the monument should be restored to its former location at the northwest corner of the 50 West Fourth apartments until legal questions surrounding the monument are resolved. City Attorney Angela Carmon said she hadn’t seen the second amended motion until Monday morning, arguing that the defendants need more time to respond.

Judge Allen agreed.

“All of us know that is not proper advance notice,” he said.

Representing plaintiffs United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division and United Daughters of the Confederacy James B. Gordon Chapter #211, lawyer James A. Davis argued that the plaintiffs had no choice but to file a second amended motion for a preliminary injunction because the city took action to remove the monument on March 13. He said the plaintiffs were in court “to try to right a wrong that’s occurred” and that the city acted unnecessarily “despite an admonition to show restraint.”

Carmon told Judge Allen that the city felt free to move forward with the removal of the Confederate monument because it posed a threat to public safety. She also said that the plaintiff’s statements in open court and in filings that Judge Allen had “admonished” the city to exercise “restraint” were a “mischaracterization,” adding that she couldn’t find those words anywhere in the judicial record. Judge Allen did not disagree with her.

Outside the courtroom, Sara N. Powell, the president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division, said she was disappointed with the continuance.

“It’s a memorial to Confederate dead,” she said. “We are not honoring anything other than those who fought and died for their state. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s history. You can’t change history. You can’t change yesterday. You can’t change your parents. You can’t change what happened 100, 150 years ago. It’s important that we remember our history, and we can learn and grow from it.”

The United Daughters of the Confederacy General Organization issued an official statement in December denouncing “any individual or group that promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy” and calling on “these people to cease using Confederate symbols for their abhorrent and reprehensible purposes.”

Notwithstanding the recent denunciation of “white supremacy,” the UDC unanimously endorsed a book by SEF Rose called The Ku Klux Klan or Invisible Empire that effusively praises the Ku Klux Klan at its 1913 convention, pledging to place it in libraries across the South. The Sons of Confederate Veterans followed suit during its national convention the following year.

The book’s unapologetic praise for the Klan, a domestic terrorist group, includes this passage: “Upon these sacred principles, love and protection of home, was founded the Ku Klux Klan; and no organization ever held loftier ideas or nobler purposes. It was composed of the soldiers of the Confederacy, who for four years, had thrilled the world with their deeds of courage and valor, and returned to their desolated homes, were forced to confront the war penalty imposed on the States of the Confederacy, slave confiscation and Reconstruction under African rule.” (In fact, North Carolina and other Southern states undertook an experiment in multiracial democracy between the end of the Civil War and 1898, when white supremacists carried out a bloody coup in Wilmington.)

In continuing the case, Judge Allen also declined to hold a hearing on a motion to quash a subpoena issued by the UDC to compel testimony and the production of documents by antiracist activist Miranda Jones. The judge said the matter can wait until April 29.

In a motion filed on March 22, Jones argues that the subpoena is “unreasonable and oppressive,” and a violation of her privacy.

The motion notes that Jones has “expressed her opposition to the Confederate monument by appropriately addressing her public officials.

“Given that she has no other connection with this claim, it appears that plaintiffs have issued this subpoena for the improper purpose of harassing movant, attempting to chill her freely exercised speech and association, and conducting a fishing expedition into her correspondence with other people who may be opposed to the Confederate monument,” the motion states.

The UDC has also filed a motion to disqualify City Attorney Angela Carmon as counsel for the city in the lawsuit, asserting that she “is a necessary witness to the facts and circumstances giving rise to the manufactured controversy under which defendant city has used as justification to remove the Confederate monument.”

In an affidavit filed to oppose the UDC’s motion, Carmon said, “I have no direct or personal knowledge of any matters related to plaintiffs’ lawsuit other than those I have learned during the course of my legal representation of the city. The matters of which I have direct and personal knowledge are protected by the attorney-client privilege.”

The UDC also says in its motion that the organization seeks testimony from Carmon related “to the development and collection of information to support the defendant city’s strategy to identify plaintiff as the designated owner of the Confederate monument.”

In her affidavit, Carmon quoted one of the UDC’s lawyers as saying, “The city has orchestrated this controversy by approaching a group of very well intend [sic], patriotic women without legal education and training, telling them they owned the monument and they needed to move it. The officers of the UDC should have consulted with counsel prior to assuming the city was correct in their appraisal of the situation. Frankly, the city has executed their plan to perfection, except for one fatal flaw, the city became a bully, and when Southern Ladies are bullied, their ire flare, with heels dug in.”

Sara N. Powell, who was accompanied by Frank Powell — spokesman for the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans — acknowledged confusion over ownership of the monument, but said ultimately she believes that the county is the owner of the monument, which was erected in 1905.

“As far as I know, we do not own it,” Powell said. “It’s part of the argument. It’s just something that has — it happened at a time when your word was your bond. We have no documentation of anything, any deed to the plot of land it was sitting on, or the actual memorial itself. It’s a conundrum.”

“It was a gift from the Daughters to the county is my belief,” she added.

Comments

comments