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Cornelius News

Vandals deface Confederate Monument in Cornelius

Aug. 14. By Dave Yochum. A national debate over Confederate monuments is unfolding again in Cornelius where it emerged two years ago during a wave of vandalism.

The Confederate Veterans Monument on Zion Avenue has been spray painted with a bright blue “X” through the words Confederate Soldiers carved in stone 107 years ago. On another side of the monument, the word “NO” is painted over two swords.

The monument, which cost $10,000 in 1910, sits behind a recently erected metal fence. It sits on private property owned by the Mt. Zion Monument Association. The association did not return Cornelius Today’s phone call by the time this story was posted.

Some years ago, a minister at the nearby church said he wished that nearby trees that fell during an intense storm had fallen on the monument.

The vandalism in Cornelius is symbolic of the difficult racial landscape more than 150 years after the end of the Civil War. 

It’s unclear exactly when the monument was defaced, but it was reported one day after white nationalists clashed with police and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., home of the University of Virginia.

One woman was killed after a latter-day Nazi sympathizer plowed his car into the crowds. Heather D. Heyer, 32, was described as “a passionate advocate for the disenfranchised.”

It is not clear whether officials will place a tarp over the monument as they did two years ago when it was defaced during a wave of vandalism in the South. It was subsequently scrubbed and fenced. A sign says the monument is under “24/7 infrared camera surveillance.” Here is a story from Aug. 7, 2015:

Back in July of 2015, swastikas were painted on the monument as well as the phrase “Stop honoring white supremacy.”

The Cornelius Confederate Monument was erected in a different day and time. A history of Mecklenburg County by historian Dan Morrill says “Slavery was a fundamental component of the social hierarchy of pre-Civil War Mecklenburg County.”

In 1860, slaves comprised roughly 40 percent of the local population—6,800 out of 17,000—making Mecklenburg County one of the highest in terms of the number of “bondspeople” in the North Carolina Piedmont, Morrill writes.

The Cornelius monument commemorates the local Confederate dead, not a general like Robert E. Lee. A Confederate Common Soldier statue stands on top of a tall tapered column at parade rest, facing north with his rifle resting on the ground. 

The rally in Charlottesville was organized in opposition to plans to remove a statue of Lee from Emancipation Park in Charlottesville. Members of white nationalist groups as well as the Ku Klux Klan clashed with counter-protesters and police.

Here is the Cornelius Police narrative on the incident, which apparently occurred sometime Saturday night or during the early morning hours Sunday:

“David Hodson, at 19600 Zion Ave Cornelius NC 28031 reference a damage to property report. Mr. Hodson stated when he arrived at the location he found the Confederate Memorial Monument owned by the Mt. Zion Monumental Association had been spray painted by an unknown subject(s). sometime overnight.”

Neither Hodson nor the monument association could be reached for comment.



5 Responses to “Vandals deface Confederate Monument in Cornelius”

  1. The statues honor the American blood that was shed during the Civil War , not the reason the war fought . It is an affront to descendants of these soldiers , who followed their government as a good citizen and suffered the consequences
    . We learn lessons from the past and should try to improve life , not vandalize memorials .

    Posted by Shirl Kerr | August 14, 2017, 5:33 pm
    • The last time it was sprayed, the owner promised that a plaque would be added that explained the statue was not to honor slavery of millions of African-Americans, that for 175 years, the USA officially holds that slavery is evil, and that many thousands of African Americans were also killed trying to obtain the freedom and heritage as human beings they were guaranteed in the US Constitution. That plaque was never installed. So to be fair, it should be.

      Posted by Robert Maier | August 15, 2017, 8:16 pm
  2. If there are those who truly believe we protect ourselves by trying to revise history due to false emotions, then we miss out on who we are as a nation, and our evolution. The statues of long since deceased leaders of the Confederate Army do not stand to remind anyone of oppression. And if a statue can oppress you, then I submit that you have greater issues. Allen B. West

    Posted by Linda Lott | August 15, 2017, 9:02 am
  3. This is a crying shame that we can’t honor our fallen military no matter what war they fought in. If you know your history you will know this wasn’t just about slavery. Slavery was an awful thing and should never have happened but it did, It is a part of History just like WW1 and the Vietnam war. It happened but it happened many many years ago. No one living now had anything to do with it. Again it is a part of History just like Martin Luther King and Malcom X. I remember when I was a freshman in high school segregation ended and I made new friends as our first blacks came to our school and it was a good thing. My mom was the first to invite and take her black friend to our small country church. I hate racism and I hate people like the KKK and what it stands for. They are thugs in the worst kind but so are the people who are destroying the monuments. Like it or not they are a part of history. I was raised to value all people but I don’t have to like their actions. Rioting in the streets and vandalism doesn’t help anyone and and I can’t help but think it’s more problematic than good. There are hate groups of every kind and every color and it has very little to do with past issues. It’s ruining our country and breeding hate for our children. It needs to stop now. Learn to respect each other and let this civil war finally end.

    Posted by Peggy Hill | August 15, 2017, 11:19 am
  4. I wish the owners of the monument responded to requests for more information, which might help solve some of the community conflict.

    Posted by Robert Maier | August 21, 2017, 9:57 am

What do you think?