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NC Court dismisses Vance Monument lawsuit

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Matt Bush
/
Blue Ridge Public Radio
Scaffolding was placed around the Vance Monument as part of the removal process in 2021.

The NC Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the removal of the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville. The ruling, issued on Tuesday, finds the Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th North Carolina Troops “lacked standing to assert its claims.”

“We were pleased to hear the court’s decision and stand behind our community task force’s recommendation to remove the monument,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer in a press release.

The group filed the suit against the city of Asheville last spring after city council voted to remove the Confederate monument.

The 75-foot obelisk was named for North Carolina’s Civil War Governor who enslaved people before the war and who later fought against civil rights for Black Americans. Only the monument’s base remains.

BPR interviewed former Buncombe County Commissioner and Vance Monument Taskforce member David King after the vote in 2021. King said that keeping the Vance Monument in Pack Square would prevent it from being a place for all people.

"Let's turn this into a welcoming place for everyone - all local people, visitors, and newcomers," said King.

 A plaque with the likeness of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and a memorial to Confederate soldiers in downtown Asheville were removed in summer 2020. Additionally, Vance Elementary School was renamed in 2021 to become Lucy S. Herring Elementary School.

The city of Asheville is still in the process of hiring a project manager who work to develop a vision for the former site of the monument. In February, there were three final candidates reported the Asheville Citizen Times.

Additional appeals can be filed in the Vance monument lawsuit can be filed in the next 15 days according to a press release from the City of Asheville.

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.
Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.