On Saturday, confederate protestors and counter-protestors rallied on opposite sides of the street outside of Chatham County Historical Courthouse.
The protest revolved around a recent decision made by Chatham County commissioners to remove the confederate statue that currently stands in front of the courthouse.
The group protesting this decision held signs and shouted chants like, “Save the monument. Remove the commissioners,” to people driving past the organization.
According to a leaked message, the scheduled rally was to only be discussed and shared with others via text or Facebook Messenger.
Pittsboro resident Scott Gilmore showed up to protest the commissioner’s decision. Unlike the counter-protesters, he said he does not believe the statue sends a hateful message.
“That's a statue of a man who fought in the confederacy — who believes in loyalty, respect, integrity, honor, above all, on which protecting my own land, my own life and my family,” Gilmore said.
Counter-protesters, holding signs with slogans praising the commissioners, outnumbered the rally across the street. Stephanie Perry is a member of, Chatham, Stand Up, which organized the counter-protest.
“We believe it's important for all facets of our town to stand up and take a stand for unity, for peace, for justice,” she said. “We supported the commissioner’s decision to bring the statue down, and we just want to keep Chatham a welcoming, fun, wonderful place to live.”
Though the protests were physically separated at the time, Perry said she hopes to one day sit down with the opposition and discuss their differences.
“We hope for the time and place where we can construct some sort of table where we can sit down and discuss our differences so that we can be unified here in Chatham County,” she said.
Police officers monitored the protests and searched a few protesters' bags. Barricades surrounded the courthouse and the confederate statue pending removal. One Pittsboro resident, Cody Miles spent time with people on both sides.
“For the people that want the statue to stand, I got one person to talk to me about it,” he said. “That to me is kind of disheartening because I came at this impartial. They're out here protesting. They want to give an opinion, so why won't they? And the people that want to take it down were very vocal and very open to talk about it.”
Most protesters and counter-protesters lived in the area, but some, like UNC student Lindsay Ayling, traveled to join the rally.
“I've seen a few people who I recognize from Orange County, but by and large, it seems to be local residents,” she said. “So that always makes me happy when people in small towns come out to say that racists aren't welcome in their communities.”
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