Arizona veterans call on Gov. Ducey to remove Confederate monument

Arizona veterans call on Gov. Ducey to remove Confederate monument
A group of Arizona veterans is demanding that Gov. Doug Ducey remove the Confederate monument from Wesley Bolin Plaza outside the Capitol building. (Source: Doug Ducey)

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A group of Arizona veterans is demanding that Gov. Doug Ducey remove the Confederate monument from Wesley Bolin Plaza outside the Capitol building.

A group called VetsForward held a news conference Wednesday morning at the plaza, asking for the monument to be taken down.

"It's great for our state to recognize that this is not an appropriate memorial," a spokeswoman for the group said. "We come out here and demand that the governor hold a special session [to] talk about removing this memorial, along with the other ones that reside in this state, and work on our law enforcement reform here in the state. That would show great solidarity with our black and brown brothers … and sisters here in Arizona. Right now, it's a time for change."

The monument at the State Capitol was a gift to Arizona from the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the early 1960s. An inscription on the monument says, "A nation that forgets its past has no future."

Since the death of George Floyd, who died in May while in police custody, there have been more and more calls throughout the country to remove Confederate monuments and imagery.

"Removing this monument isn't a choice to erase our history, it's a choice to embrace our future," Katie Hobbs tweeted Monday. 

Arizona Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs wrote the governor a letter earlier this month, asking him to remove the monument from the State Capitol building.

"Without a doubt, the most shameful moments of our history should not be forgotten. But we need not honor these shameful moments in order to remember them," Hobbs wrote in her letter. "Indeed, we're reminded of the legacy of slavery through racial inequality that persists in our country to this day. … We don't heal the divisions in our country by honoring those who would divide us."

Hobbs said the Confederate monument is "undeserving to sit among the honorable individuals and causes that are recognized in the Plaza," including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Navajo Codetalkers, and the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

This isn’t the first call to remove the monument. In February of last year, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People made a plea to Ducey to remove all six Confederate monuments on state land.

“This speaks to the privilege that people that support this monument have and not understanding the pain that people went through, even in this state,” East Valley NAACP leader Rev. Reginald Walton said. “It is known and reported that black people could not go above Van Buren Avenue [sic] in Phoenix, Arizona in 1961.”

NAACP members believe the Confederate monuments on Arizona public land speak to institutional racism.

"These monuments are not only offensive to the descendants of African slaves, they are offensive to any American who celebrates the principles of liberty and justice on which our nation was founded," East Valley NAACP president Roy Tatem Jr. said in a statement.

State Rep. Richard Andrade of Legislative District joined the Wednesday press conference.

"We're in 2020, and you see a lot of discrimination still in our communities," Andrade said. "We need to remove all these symbols or hate – racism and hatred – that flows through our country. … This is the first step in addressing this issue here in Arizona. … It's time to start re-educating America."

"If you think about the Confederate soldiers, they were traitors to the United States," Jarvis Reddick, another veteran said. "So, why would memorialize somebody who's a traitor?"

Supporters of the monument say the statues represent the history of the U.S.

In 2018, Ducey signed legislation that eliminated the public committee overseeing monuments at the Capitol. According to the measure, oversight was handed to the Department of Administration, which the governor has a lot of power over because the director is appointed by the governor and reports to him.

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