‘Tools of Terror’: Black Leaders in Arizona Call for Removal of Confederate Memorials

Reginald Walton of Black Lives Matter speaks at a press conference on June 5, 2017, at the Arizona Informant, 1301 E. Washington St. in Phoenix. (Mark Henle/azcentral.com)
Reginald Walton of Black Lives Matter speaks at a press conference on June 5, 2017, at the Arizona Informant, 1301 E. Washington St. in Phoenix. (Mark Henle/azcentral.com)

African-American leaders on Monday urged Gov. Doug Ducey to remove six U.S. Civil War memorials honoring Confederate soldiers, denouncing the state monuments as “tools of terror” and “symbols of racial hatred.”

Representatives of the Maricopa County and East Valley branches of the NAACP, Black Lives Matter-PHX, the Arizona Informant newspaper and religious organizations called for immediate action in a news conference at the newspaper’s Phoenix offices.

“We believe that these monuments have been erected to intimidate, terrorize and strike fear in the hearts of Arizonans, particularly African-Americans, while inspiring and emboldening white supremacists,” East Valley NAACP spokeswoman Collette Watson said.

Ducey must “stand up against these forces of hatred and remove these symbols from public lands in the state of Arizona,” she said.

Tensions related to Confederate memorials and flags have exploded in the two years since a white supremacist killed nine and injured three black members of a Charleston, South Carolina, church. In cities from St. Louis to New Orleans to Baltimore, those who believe the monuments glorify slavery and racism have clashed with others who view them as symbols of Southern history and heritage.

Though Arizona — so far — has avoided the vandalism and violent protests seen in other states, fierce opposition to removing the monuments exists. The Arizona division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, an organization that pays tribute to Confederate soldiers, has promised to fight any removal efforts.

Black leaders nonetheless believe they have national momentum on their side.

“To see Louisiana dismantling their elaborate Confederate monuments…to see Baltimore entertaining removing Confederate monuments, to see South Carolina finally removing the Confederate flag from its state Capitol — we think that our chances are very good,” said Roy Tatem, East Valley NAACP president.  “If Arizona wants to be a leader, we believe Arizona will follow suit.”

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SOURCE: Maria Polletta
The Republic | azcentral.com