PHOENIX — A group gathered Monday to deliver a message to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey: Remove the state’s six Confederate monuments.
“To many African-Americans, the Confederate flag is a symbol of racial terrorism,” Maricopa County NAACP President Ann Hart said at a press conference Monday.
“It represents the battle fought over the enslavement of black people [and] a symbol of resistance to the civil rights of African-Americans.”
Monday’s press conference was in line with numerous others nationwide as groups push for the removal of Confederate monuments.
“The Confederacy was built upon the backs of our ancestors,” Pastor Reginald Walton, who heads the Phoenix branch of Black Lives Matter, said. “Yes, we are offended and yes, we are upset.”
Unlike in other states, a majority of Arizona’s monuments are in relatively out-of-the-way locations, with the exception of the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza marker near the State Capitol.
In 2015 and 2016, there was talk of getting rid of them. However, no legislation was introduced.
Marshall Trimble, the state historian, said Arizona was briefly a Confederate territory and that a Confederate force occupied Tucson for a few weeks during the Civil War. The state joined the union in 1912.
Trimble said the push to remove the monuments is misguided and unjustly erases American history.
“One thing that America should be proud is that it’s never tried to expunge or hide its history. It’s let the world see its warts and all,” Trimble said.
“Our country has not been perfect. The slavery issue is a real blot on American history.”
Clovis Campbell, who publishes “The Arizona Informant,” a paper that focuses on African-American issues, said it was true the monuments represent history, but honoring the wrong parts of history does nothing for the country or Arizona.
“At the end of the day, this is just about what’s right,” he said.
State Rep. Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen) agreed.
“We can’t go through our daily lives honoring symbols of hate, symbols of separation, symbols of segregation,” he said Monday.
“Governor, your office offered support. Unfortunately, words without action was all my community received.
“The state of Arizona has no place in propping up these symbols of intolerance by allowing those symbols to be placed on state property. That assumes that our government is sympathetic to these victimizers and all they stood for.”
Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato declined to say whether the governor would like to see the monuments removed and names changed.
Instead, he said “Arizonans interested in name changes should reach out to the respective board or commission.”
The monument at the Capitol is administered by a commission whose members are appointed by legislative leaders, the chairman of Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the Phoenix mayor and the governor.
Highway names are handled by the Board on Geographic and Historic Names, which Ducey doesn’t directly control but which includes a majority of nominees from executive departments and citizens who are appointed to their jobs by the governor.
Flip through the gallery below to see Arizona’s six Confederate monuments.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.