The public will have a chance to comment on the future of Confederate monuments in North Carolina at an upcoming public meeting.
Democratic Governor Roy Cooper set off the series of events by asking that three Confederate monuments be moved from the state’s old Capitol grounds to a Civil War battlefield site in Johnston County. The committee examining that proposal met by teleconference on Monday to set ground rules for a public hearing scheduled for next week.
The meeting is scheduled for March 21 in the auditorium of the North Carolina State Archives in downtown Raleigh and will run from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The chair of the committee will have the option to extend the meeting by one hour, if he feels as though more comments are needed.
Speakers will be limited to one minute and will address the committee in the order they signed up. The committee chair will also have the option to divert from that list to ask for speakers representing a different viewpoint, if there are large numbers of consecutive speakers on one side of the issue.
The main concern from the panel seemed to be making sure that the committee heard speakers from both sides of the issue.
“Let’s say one group lined up and they got the whole speaking side,” one member said on Monday’s teleconference. “The chairman could midway through say, ‘we’ve only heard from one side of this debate, we’d like to hear from some people on the other side.’
“And that would be up to the chairman to make that decision.”
Another committee member reiterated the desire for a “balanced” discussion.
“This thing should not turn into a partisan issue one way or the other,” he said. “We need to have a nice, balanced viewpoint from many people.”
In addition to the time limitation, speakers will also be limited to speaking about the monuments at the center of the proposal, not other monuments across the state, including Silent Sam on the UNC – Chapel Hill campus.
The five-member panel is scheduled to bring a report back to the full Historical Commission next month before that body considers options regarding Cooper’s request.
Public comments can also be made through an online portal. Committee members said on Monday that more than 3,700 messages had already been received.