A South Carolina mayor believes state law prevents him from removing a white supremacist monument honoring a white man killed in an 1876 riot that also left seven black men dead.
His solution? Add to the monument by recognizing the black men who died in the Reconstruction-era clash between a black militia and a white mob.
“It’s an opportunity to look at something divisive for the community and hopefully make it a positive for the community,” North Augusta Mayor Bob Pettit told CNN.
The stone obelisk has stood in a North Augusta park since 1916 and honors Thomas McKie Meriwether, who died in what’s known as the Hamburg Massacre, a clash that broke out as armed white men attempted to take control of a predominantly black town of the same name, according to a report by Pettit.
But it makes no mention of the black men who were killed.
Transcribed on the obelisk’s base is a message calling Meriwether a “young hero” who “exemplified the highest ideal of Anglo-Saxon civilization. By his death he assured to the children of his beloved land the supremacy of that ideal.”
That message makes it clear, Pettit said, that the monument promotes white supremacy.
“I’ve had nobody dispute it to me,” he said. “And we just need to take positive action to remedy that situation, in my opinion.”