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Most North Carolinians want historical monuments to stay

There is strong support among North Carolina residents to keep Confederate statues and monuments on public property, even as another monument at the center of a prolonged legal battle has come down, according to the results of a new survey by the Elon University Poll.

The Confederate statue in downtown Pittsboro in Chatham County, which had been in place since 1907, was removed from its place in front of the county courthouse last week following recent court rulings and clashes between demonstrators. A recent Elon University Poll survey has found that a solid majority of North Carolinians believe those symbols should remain.

The survey of nearly 1,500 North Carolina residents found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) believe that Confederate monuments should remain on public, government-owned property such as parks, city squares and courthouses. The remaining 35 percent say the monuments should be removed.

“Our findings suggest that a compromise might have broad support in local communities grappling with controversies about Confederate monuments,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon University Poll and associate professor of political science. “While we found a substantial majority do not want the monuments removed from public property, we found an even larger majority who support efforts to add context through historical plaques.”

The survey gauged support for other steps that could be taken regarding Confederate monuments, with 72 percent saying adding plaques that offer historical context to the monument was a good idea. Sixty-five percent said moving the monuments and statues to history museums was a good idea, 55 percent said it would be a good idea to move them to Confederate cemeteries or memorials, and 37 percent said it would be a good idea to replace them with monuments to honor Southerners who fought to end slavery.

“Perceptions of the past are powerful. We see clear evidence of this in factors that influence support for Confederate monuments remaining on public property,” Husser said.

Monuments in Durham, Forsyth and Orange counties have been removed in recent years.