Council members say Russian war monument debate has divided Elizabeth City

Posted at 2:21 PM, Mar 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-13 18:17:01-04

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - Council members say the debate over whether to accept a Russian-funded war monument has exposed divisions in the city.

"How is this a 'harbor of hospitality' when this one particular subject is bringing so much division in our community?" asked Council member Gabriel Adkins.

On Monday night, three of them voted to direct city staff to not spend anymore time on the issue, but the vote failed as five others voted against the motion.

"I'm sick of it," said Council member Johnnie Walton about the debate. He was among those who voted to try to direct city staff to no longer work on it.

City Manager Rich Olson says the project is dead right now after council members voted last month to not move forward with accepting the monument, but a council member could ask to bring it back up again the future.

Some city council members say it's time to move on and focus on other things. "There are so many other things we need to focus on," said Council member Darius Horton.

During the meeting, Rick Boyd, a resident in favor of the monument, spoke about his petition to ask city council to reconsider not moving forward with the monument. Boyd says has more than 550 signatures. "This thing is going to go national," he said.

Others spoke at the meeting against the idea, saying the timing is wrong given the current state of US-Russia relations. "We're at cyber war with these people," said Hezekiah Brown, a resident against it. Brown said the debate has led to strong opinions, even along racial lines. "It has already strained the local community's relationship."