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Ducey condemns hate groups, but again dodges monument dustup

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at the Lewis Prison Complex during an event on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, in Buckeye, Ariz. Speaking after the event, the governor condemned the white supremacist groups that gathered in Virginia over the weekend to protest the removal of Confederate monuments, but again refused to heed calls from civil rights leaders to take the lead in pushing to remove six Confederate monuments in Arizona. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday condemned the white supremacist groups that gathered in Virginia over the weekend to protest the removal of Confederate monuments. But the Republican governor again refused to heed calls from civil rights leaders to take the lead in pushing to remove six Confederate monuments here.

During a media availability at a state prison, Ducey said he “categorically, 100 percent condemns these hate groups, the KKK, the Klan, neo-Nazis, white nationalists.”

“And I just wanted to be absolutely clear on that,” he said in explaining a tweet he sent late Sunday. “I think we’ve got a great place to live here – Arizona is a place where 70 percent of our adult citizens came from somewhere else to call it home. So it’s a very welcoming, inviting place. I want to keep it that way.”

But the governor also said “it’s not my desire or mission to tear down any monuments or memorials.”

“We have a public process for this,” Ducey said. “If the public wants to be engaged in this, I’d invite them to get engaged in it.”

That’s exactly what black leaders in Arizona have been doing for months. They say Ducey has done nothing to work to remove six Confederate monuments on public land that they say glorify the country’s racist past.

In June, leaders from local NAACP chapters called on Ducey to remove the monuments, including one at the state capitol that was erected in 1961. Others include a marker at Picacho Peak north of Tucson dedicated to Confederate soldiers who defended the area during a battle.

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.

Rep. Reginald Bolding, the only black state lawmaker and among those who called on Ducey to pull the monuments in June, said the governor obviously has done nothing to encourage the boards to act.

“If the board was pushing for this, if the governor’s office was pushing for this, if our legislative leaders, the Senate president and speaker of the House, if they were pushing for this, it would happen quickly,” Bolding said. “My hope and my community’s hope is he will join our call and help expedite the process.”

An Ohio man who joined in the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday is charged with murder after a car mowed down a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring at least 19 other people. Separately, two state police officers who had been monitoring the protests died when their helicopter crashed.

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