Friday, June 19, 2020

Confederate monuments are coming down, but more than 700 remain, and removing them may be legally tricky

Map and legend by The Washington Post, enhanced by The Rural Blog; for a larger version, click on it.
More than 70 of the nation’s Confederate monuments have been removed since the 2015 shooting in Charleston, S.C.—some by local governments and some by protesters—and almost a third of them have come down in the weeks since George Floyd’s death. But around 700 monuments remain, “along with hundreds of names on roads, schools, parks and the like,” Bonnie Berkowitz and Adrian Blanco report for The Washington Post.

Georgia and Virginia have the largest share of remaining monuments, with more than 100 each. Many were built decades after the Civil War, even outside Confederate states, as a show of support for Jim Crow laws, and at least 35 new monuments have been dedicated since 2000. Though the monuments have attracted debate and legal issues for decades, the recent spike in attention has prompted many city leaders to remove the monuments, Berkowitz and Blanco report.

However, “laws in some states make removing Confederate symbols extremely difficult, including in South Carolina, where a law written in 2000 requires two-thirds of legislators have to approve any removal,” Berkowitz and Blanco report. “An Alabama law restricting Confederate removals was enacted in 2017, and it is unclear whether or how the recent removals square with it.”

In his first story as a New York Times reporting fellow, rural reporter Will Wright looks at the problem of where to take Confederate monuments that local governments no longer want.

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