Wilmington quietly takes down two Confederate statues “to protect public safety”


Caitlyn Dark

One of the two Confederate statues at 3rd and Dock St. in downtown Wilmington. As of June 25 they were removed for public safety reasons.

Caitlyn Dark, News Editor

In the very early morning hours of June 25, construction crews were hard at work doing something many Wilmington citizens had long thought impossible: the removal of the city’s two most visible Confederate statues.

The city woke up on June 25 to see the statues memorializing the Confederate Attorney General George Davis at Market and Third Street and the statue for the Confederate soldiers, known colloquially as the Boney Monument, at Third and Dock removed from their posts atop their stone pedestal.

One of the two Confederate statues at Market & 3rd St. in downtown Wilmington. As of June 25 they were removed for public safety reasons. (Caitlyn Dark)

The removal of the statues came at a significant time. Numerous Black Lives Matter protests have marched in cities across the country including Wilmington after the horrific death of George Floyd was caught on camera on May 25. Throughout the month of June, many of these protests have featured protesters vandalizing or even themselves removing controversial Confederate statues, including an incident in Raleigh on June 20. Just shortly after, Wilmington enacted curfews in the downtown area to restrict activity near the statues at night and the city faced international publicity after the firing of three Wilmington police officers for racist statements.

There is currently no public plan concerning if the statues will return to their intersections or if they will be erected elsewhere. The Historic Wilmington Foundation said in a statement regarding this issue that “Both the state and the city will help contribute to that decision. According to North Carolina statutes, relocation of monuments would need to be to a ‘place of equal prominence.’” However, the Foundation emphasizes that “Preservation doesn’t necessarily mean ‘honor.’”

Preservation NC said in a statement that also reflects the outlook of much of the historical preservation community, “Our preservation work regularly connects us to the often inspiring, frequently distressing, and always complicated nature of history. This is a complex issue, and we believe that communities have a duty to address it head-on, centering on the voices of those negatively impacted by the monuments’ public display and prominence.”

“We believe that monuments that are not and cannot be appropriately contextualized—and which do not acknowledge the painful realities of white supremacy—should be removed from public display.”

The George Davis statue and Boney Monument had stood since 1911 and 1924, respectively, since they were erected with the support from the local Wilmington chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy.