Black leaders in Arizona called for the state governor to remove Confederate monuments, calling them “symbols of racial hatred” and “tools of terror” during a news conference Monday.
Speakers for Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, religious organizations, and the Arizona Informant newspaper made the demand in Phoenix at the newspaper’s office, according to The Arizona Republic.
“We believe that these monuments have been erected to intimidate, terrorize and strike fear in the hearts of Arizonans, particularly African-Americans, while inspiring and emboldening white supremacists,” said Collette Watson, an East Valley NAACP spokeswoman.
Watson called upon GOP Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to “stand up against these forces of hatred and remove these symbols from public lands in the state of Arizona.”
“To see Louisiana dismantling their elaborate Confederate monuments,” said Roy Tatem, president of the East Valley NAACP, according to The Arizona Republic. “…to see Baltimore entertaining removing Confederate monuments, to see South Carolina finally removing the Confederate flag from its state Capitol — we think that our chances are very good…if Arizona wants to be a leader, we believe Arizona will follow suit.”
“[Ducey] has not taken a solid position on the Confederate Monuments in Arizona and that is absolutely troubling for many in the African American, Latino, Jewish, Muslim, LGBT, and the Progressive communities,” Tatem said Tuesday to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Patrick Ptak, spokesman for Ducey, told The Arizona Republic that the black leaders were focusing their efforts on the wrong individual. The spokesman said that renaming or removing the monuments would “fall under the jurisdiction of other entities” such as the State Board on Geographic and Historical Names and the Legislative Governmental Mall Commission.
But Reginald Walton, representing Black Lives Matter, branded Confederate symbols “tools of terror” and said that Ducey could take the monuments down “with a stroke of a pen.”
“This is a slap in the face to all Americans as those who seceded were…traitors to this country,” said Watson. “And to have a monument that honors that is honoring the institution of slavery, is honoring terrorism on this land.”
Rep. Reginald Bolding, a Democrat representing Laveen, Ariz., had tried to trigger the renaming of the Jefferson Davis Highway in 2015.
“We called on the governor [two years ago], and what he gave us was lip service,” said the representative at the conference. “We hope that we can get action today.”
TheDCNF reached out to the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names for comment, but received none in time for publication.