WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- A granite monument to the Ten Commandments placed in front of City Hall by a lone council member was removed Tuesday after it was deemed a safety threat, a city spokeswoman said.
No protesters were present when the monument was lifted with a
backhoe and taken to a Department of Transportation warehouse,
spokeswoman Carrie Collins said. The 4-foot-tall granite marker
consisted of two unfastened pieces that Collins said could topple
"We roped it off to protect the public and decided to remove
it," she said.
City Council member Vernon Robinson, who said he was inspired by
Alabama's ousted chief justice, placed the monument in front of
City Hall on Monday while it was closed for the Martin Luther King
Jr. holiday. He said he paid the $2,000 cost of buying and moving
the monument himself.
City Attorney Ron Seeber said Robinson had no right to install
the monument, and Mayor Allen Joines called it divisive.
"Obviously, if you are going to do something like this, this is
not the right way to do it," Joines said Monday. "We are working
hard to bring the city together. Actions like this tend to push
The appropriate process for anyone to put a permanent marker on
city property is to petition the council for approval, Seeber said.
Robinson, who is running for the Republican nomination for the
5th Congressional District, was traveling early Tuesday and not
immediately available for comment. On Monday, he said he didn't get
permission to put up the marker because he didn't know the
Robinson, who is black, also said that his action was not
intended to clash with King Day celebrations.
Robinson said he was inspired by former Alabama Chief Justice
Roy Moore, who was ousted from office last year for refusing to
obey a federal court order to remove a 21/2-ton Ten Commandments
monument placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building. A
federal judge found the monument to be an unconstitutional
governmental promotion of religion.
The marker put up in Winston-Salem is inscribed on one side with
the Ten Commandments and on the other with the Bill of Rights.
Robinson said it was "intended to acknowledge the undeniable role
that the Ten Commandments and Bill of Rights have played in
developing the American legal tradition.”
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)