Asheville police arrested four people Friday morning for attempting to vandalize a Confederate marker in Pack Square downtown. Police say protestors gathered around the Vance Monument before 8 a.m. Friday. Several then attempted to damage the smaller marker in front of the monument that has a plaque with the likeness of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Arrested were 27-year-old Nicole Townsend, 45-year-old Amy Cantrell, 30-year-old Hillary Brown, and 34-year-old Adrienne Sigmon. All are from Asheville and all four face charges of Damage to Real Property.
Pack Square is home to three Confederate monuments, and was the site of a demonstration Sunday evening that was in response to the death of a woman counter protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia the day before. The 65-foot tall Vance Monument is the largest of the three monuments. It was finished in 1898 and honors Zebulon Vance. He was North Carolina's governor during the Civil War and U.S. Senator during the post-war Reconstruction period. Vance owned slaves and helped stop the full granting of civil rights to freed blacks following the Civil War. The marker that contains General Lee's likeness was placed in front of the Vance Monument by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1926. The third monument honors Confederate soldiers and is outside the current Buncombe County courthouse.
North Carolina governor Roy Cooper this week said he believed all Confederate monuments in the state should be taken down, something Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer said she agrees with. A 2-year-old state law prohibits local governments in North Carolina from taking down such monuments without the approval of the North Carolina Historical Commission. Governor Cooper has asked the General Assembly to repeal that law. This week, protestors pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier in Durham, while a limestone carving of General Lee on the Duke University campus was also defaced.