- Associated Press - Thursday, July 16, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A vandalized Confederate monument in Charlotte, North Carolina was removed from Old City Hall on Thursday and relocated to a city warehouse for cleaning.

“Right now there are plans to put it back, but that’s a decision that needs to be made by city council,” said Charlotte’s corporate spokesman Ken Brown. It is unknown how long the cleaning will take or what it will cost, he said. The city manager’s office ordered the monument moved but did not respond to requests for comment.

The vandalism comes as the nation debates the appropriateness of the Confederate battle flag and Confederate monuments after the shooting of nine worshippers at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C. The suspect in that case, a white man, has been seen posing in photographs with the Confederate flag.

While there have been numerous Confederate monuments vandalized across the South since the shooting, most monuments have been cleaned and reopened without having to be moved.

“The vandalism, in some cases, will give city officials a much welcomed excuse for taking them down,” said James W. Loewen, an American sociologist who researches Confederate memorials. “This gives them an excuse to say we’re taking it down because it is a point of contention and to save the city trouble and money. Then they don’t have to take a stand on the underlying cause itself.”

The North Carolina legislature is moving forward on legislation that would protect Confederate monuments. In April, the Senate passed a bill banning state or local authorities from removing “objects of remembrance” from public property without state legislative action. A House committee approved the bill Wednesday, sending it to the full House.

The monument at Old City Hall was one of two Confederate monuments to be defaced in Charlotte on Wednesday. Police are investigating both acts of vandalism. No arrests have been made.

At Old City Hall, someone spray-painted “racist” on a memorial that honors Confederate soldiers and was placed in 1977. Liquid cement was smeared on another Confederate memorial monument located near the Grady Cole Center. The monument is owned by Mecklenburg County and was unveiled in 1929.

County spokesman Rick Christenbury said the county will pay a private company to repair the damage for $300. Workers covered the monument with black trash bags Thursday, so rain would not harden the cement further.

The cement covered the carved inscription, two battle flags and the word ‘Confederate.’ The inscription states that Confederate soldiers “preserved the Anglo-Saxon civilization of the South,” which Loewen called an “overt” white supremacist message.

The United Confederate Veterans raised funds with Charlotte citizens to pay for the monument and erected it in 1929. The Old City Hall monument was donated by the Confederate Memorial Association of Charlotte and the city council voted to allow its 1977 placement, Brown said.

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