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Arizona activists urge Gov. Doug Ducey to remove Confederate monuments

This June 5, 2017 file photo shows a monument to Arizona Confederate soldiers, presented by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1961, amid other memorials at Wesley Bonin Memorial Plaza on the grounds of the Capitol complex in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Angie Wang, File)

PHOENIX — A group of civic and civil rights leaders in Arizona are asking Gov. Doug Ducey to remove four monuments memorializing the Confederacy from state land.

“Racism and the symbols of hatred have no place in the great state of Arizona,” said Rev. Reginald Walton of Phillips Memorial CME Church in downtown Phoenix. “They belong in a museum, for teaching – for teachable moments.”

Walton was among the group of leaders who delivered hundreds of signed petitions to Ducey on Thursday.

Arizona has four Confederate monuments on state land: A marker in Phoenix’s Wesley Bolin Park, a plaque and monument at Picacho Peak State Park, a memorial in the Southern Arizona Veterans’ Cemetery and a marker on the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway.

In 2015, Ducey said he would direct the Transportation Department to look into renaming Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway.

But this past August, following protests in Charlottesville that left one woman dead, Ducey said he would not push for renaming the highway or removing the monuments, saying “it’s not my desire or mission to tear down any monuments or memorials.”

Arizona state Rep. Reginald Bolding said by delegating the decision-making regarding the Jefferson Davis Highway to the Arizona Department of Transportation, Ducey has effectively “passed the leadership on to other members of this commission.”

“Members of these commissions believe that the governor — and the Arizona Department of Transportation — does have the authority and the ability to make the decision,” Bolding said. “The question is, who’s governing in the state of Arizona?

“These symbols glorify the mass murder of African-American individuals,” he added. “We should not still live in a country that glorifies that.”

The marker along the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway was damaged in August after someone covered it with tar and feathers. The statue in Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza was spray-painted earlier that month.

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