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Sons Of Confederate Veterans Guard Confederate Statue During Sylva Vigil

Lilly Knoepp
A large crowd gathered at the bottom of the Jackson County Courthouse steps. You can see a smaller group gathered around the Confederate monument in the middle of the steps.

Protests ignited in cities large and small across North Carolina this weekend over the death of George Floyd.  BPR was at a vigil in Sylva.

A large crowd gathered at the bottom of the Jackson County Courthouse steps for a candlelight vigil around the fountain on Sunday evening. The event was organized by the local NAACP chapter and Indivisible. 

The group stood in silence for 45 minutes.  Then Pastor Jo Schonewolf from Whittier United Methodist Church gave a benediction focusing on the children at the vigil. 

“And may we all go forward from this place working, so that the future that they live in is not the present that we inhabit right now,” says Schonewolf. 

 Throughout the vigil, a small group stood in the middle of the steps surrounding a Confederate monument inscribed with the dedication to: “Our Heroes of the Confederacy.” There was a rumor that the vigil attendees might try to pull down the statue of a Confederate soldier – other similar statues were defaced across the country this weekend.

Credit Lilly Knoepp
The back of the monument is inscribed, "To our valiant fathers..." and "To our heroic mothers..."

“We’re making sure our history is protected.”

That’s Kent Moore. He’s with the Sons of Confederate Veterans. 

“It went fine and I mean, you know, I’m fine with a peaceful protest. I have no problem with that. You know I don’t agree with what happened in Minneapolis,” says Moore. “I’m like everybody else. I think the officer was wrong but I think some of these protests going on around the country are just as wrong.” 

The night ended peacefully.


Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She 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.