Residents put Confederate monument on public safety agenda

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Miranda Jones, a teacher with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, speaks to city council in February. (file photo)

Scooters and bow hunting were on the agenda for the Public Safety Committee, but residents wanted to talk about the Confederate statue.

City officials announced immediate plans to remove the Confederate monument at the end of January, and yet it was still standing when members of Hate Out of Winston appeared before the Public Safety Committee of Winston-Salem City Council on Monday night.

“You have written us a check that we cannot cash,” Miranda Jones told members of the committee as 10 members of the group stood behind her. “We are here and plan to stay here.”

After the meeting, Assistant City Manager Damon Dequenne declined to comment on the status of the initiative, other than to confirm that the city was still trying to work out logistics and that the removal of the statue could take place at any time within the next few weeks. City Attorney Angela Carmon said a judge denied a request for a hearing in response to a second motion by the United Daughters of the Confederacy for a temporary restraining order.

During Jones’ comments, supporters repeated a chorus of, “Tear it down!”

While city officials are using public safety concerns as a legal justification for removing the statue, Jones argued, “The real public safety issue is a system of white supremacy that erected the statue.” She said white supremacy manifests itself today in investment on the west side of the city while unsafe school buildings remain on the east side, in underfunding of affordable housing and transit, and in a recent ICE raid at an apartment complex off Motor Road. She also alluded to a recent letter by the city attorney alleging that neo-Confederate activists brought guns to a rally attended by antiracists.

“You say this is a public safety issue when we have risked our very lives confronting a group that brought armed security to keep the statue up; we brought nothing but our voices,” Jones said. “Today, we bring nothing but our voices. But we’re not an echo; we’re a strong vibration. We ask: Can we cash the check?”

Three monument supporters, including Yadkin County resident Howard Snow of the neo-Confederate group Heirs to the Confederacy, also attended the meeting, but left before Chairman James Taylor opened it up to public comment.

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Members of the Public Safety Committee also discussed proposed regulations for Bird scooters. The committee voted to temporarily ban Bird scooters in November until the city can develop workable regulations. Assistant City Manager Marilena Guthold said staff needs another month to work on the proposal, particularly to develop “a more robust provision regarding data breaches” so that users’ personal information is protected.

But it’s certain that the regulations will include time and age restrictions. Council members expressed no disagreement when Guthold reported that staff was looking to set 16 as a minimum age, and that the draft proposal includes a measure to prohibit use between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The draft regulations also call for service providers “to maintain a 24-hour hotline and a local office open during business hours.”

Council members disagreed about what level of management should be expected of service providers.

“The idea that hours of operation, we’re asking for a storefront or a physical place and a person who is responsible for a program and licensing — I’m curious if the hours of operation do not correspond to the hours of operation for the rental of that equipment, and allowing them to start renting at 6 o’clock in the morning and run until 10 at night when most businesses run from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon,” Councilman John Larson said. “And I have a problem with that because most of our problems are going to happen at 8 o’clock at night or 7 o’clock at night.”

In contrast, Councilman Jeff MacIntosh said he doesn’t see a need to have a person on location for every hour when the scooters are in service.

The current draft regulations give the service provider 72 hours to collect abandoned scooters. But Mayor Pro Tem Vivian Burke said the city should put them on a tighter leash, expressing concern that school children and other pedestrians will have to step over scooters on the sidewalks.

The city of Greensboro has already implemented new rules governing the use of scooters.

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Committee members also discussed a proposal to allow bow hunting inside the city limits.

“We’ve had ample discussion of this in committee,” said Councilman James Taylor, who chairs the Public Safety Committee. “I think over all, there were members of the council and committee who spoke in favor of this ordinance because it creates jobs, maybe impacting processing the venison. And it provides a healthy source of food for children and families. And lastly, it could help feed the homeless and some of the residents in this city who may be living in poverty.”

Last month, Councilwoman DD Adams spoke enthusiastically about the proposal.

“I believe we can do something good here, provide protein for families that can’t afford to go get — whether it’s steak or Angus or whatever it is,” she said. “I also believe we can help feed the homeless in this way, to go give protein.

“I definitely plan to get me some bow lessons, because I’m going for it,” she added.

While Taylor and Adams highlighted the economic and food security benefits of hunting, Assistant City Manager Damon Dequenne framed the purpose of the program in terms of wildlife management.

“The whole idea is to reduce nuisances,” he said. “Apparently, deer are a nuisance. They can get into your garden. They can cause traffic accidents. And the intent is to reduce the urban deer population and prevent those things.”

Dequenne said 61 other North Carolina municipalities allow bow-hunting, including Kannapolis, Concord and Huntersville, but Winston-Salem would be the largest.

“When we spoke to the other cities that have this, it’s not as widely used as they thought it would be,” he said. “They get a handful of hunters.”

Last month, Dequenne said, “Their experience is there’s been no citations for breaking the rules, no complaints about hunters. They were shocked at the limited number of hunters that were actually taking the opportunity.”

The ordinance would allow people to hunt with bows and arrows and crossbows during during the months of January and February.

The proposed ordinance would generally allow people to hunt on lots that are at least two acres, with the exception of historic districts. And hunting would be prohibited on, adjacent to or across from public property.

Larson said he would prefer that the minimum lot size be increased to three acres — a change that Taylor said he could support.

“Don’t anybody leave here morbidly afraid they’re going to be shooting arrows through your backyard,” Taylor said. “It’s not the case.”

purpose of the ordinance is alleviate hunger by allowing the people the opportunity to hunt deer.

The proposed ordinance would generally allow people to hunt on lots that are at least two acres, with the exception of historic districts, institutional zoning and schools. Larson said he would prefer that the minimum lot size be increased to three acres — a change that Taylor said he could support.

Taylor said the ordinance would only allow hunting from raised platforms so that the arrows are fired downward.

“Don’t anybody leave here morbidly afraid they’re going to be shooting arrows into your backyard,” Taylor said.

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