N.C. Officials Remove Ten Commandments Monument; Say Heavy Item Could Topple

7:52 PM, Jan 20, 2004   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

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 over.

"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 people apart.”

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 procedure.

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.)

Most Watched Videos