The County of North Carolina removed a Confederate statue from a historic courtroom early Wednesday, joining the handful of places around the state where such monuments have collapsed in recent years, despite a law protecting them.
News reports that a subdued crowd of several dozen people watched as a soldier statue was pulled down at night in front of the historic Chatham County Courthouse, where it had stood since 1
The transfer comes months after Winston-Salem employees remove a Confederate statue from land there that passed privately. Protesters have also demolished two such monuments in recent years, including one in Durham's historic courthouse and another on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
It is rare for government officials to remove statues of the Confederacy in North Carolina after the enactment of the State Historic Preservation Act of 2015 restricting the removal of public monuments.
But county officials argue in court that the monument is privately owned by the Confederate United Daughters, and a judge hearing the group's challenge refused to block the removal.
Crews closed two highways that intersect in a circular motion around the court while dismantling the statue that stood in front of the court's front door.
The catalog of monuments at the University of North Carolina states that the statue depicts an anonymous soldier holding a rifle and his ass resting on the ground. It is made of stamped copper, finished to look like bronze, on a pedestal of granite.
A county news release states that the statue and pedestal were carefully dismantled and taken to a safe place until the United Daughters of the Confederacy devised a plan for what to do with them.
Over the past weeks, protesters for and against the removal had rallied around the statue, leading to squabbles and some arrests.
“The last few months have been a painful time for Chatham County. We have experienced strong emotions, division and even violence that have impacted residents, businesses and the overall feel of our community, "Chatham County Committee Chairman Mike Dasher said in a statement. "What is clear now is that the overwhelming majority of our residents are ready to move forward."
North Carolina was at the center of the debate over what to do with the monuments of the Confederacy as one of the three southern states with the most many statues, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center
More than 90 Confederate monuments stand in public places other than cemeteries around the state. Status shows that Confederate monuments are located on contemporary or historic buildings in about half of the state's counties.
Viewers of Pittsburgh's elimination on Wednesday had differing views.
A fan of the monument, Robert Butler, describes his removal as "heartbreaking" before WRAL-TV.
But Sandra Moncure Day, who is black, told News & Observer that he was in favor of removing it. She said she got out of bed and put on a heavy coat to come to Pittsburgh to watch the statue go down.
"It's an honor and a privilege for you to stay here," she said. "I Wanted to See It Alone."