Rain and sleet do not deter Gary Votour, of SC Onward from attending his organized protest rally at the State House. Although inclement weather turned-away attendees, he was concerned that participants would show up without seeing a last-minute cancellation on Facebook. “I told them, I would be here,” he stated. Bracing the cold, something unusual for Columbia residents, Gary was happy to answer questions to visitors at the State House.
Gary’s quest is to bring attention to the Heritage Act, which was enacted as a compromise for the removal of the Confederate Flag off the State House dome, and onto the grounds in the year 2000. The act states that a 2/3 majority vote must agree to remove any monument. This has only occurred once in 2015 after Dylann Roof killed 9 members of an African American church in Charleston, SC.
Removal of the Act is highly debated. Some argue that it’s an act of destroying or denying history. Others argue, that some monuments depict persons of questionable morals and values, which conflict with the current population’s goals and beliefs.
Gary isn’t asking that we remove all monuments though. His argument is that cities and towns, the residents within them, should have a say whether certain monuments should stay or not. The current wording of the Heritage Act disables this option statewide.
According to the SC Onward flyer available on the day of the protest:
“In particular, the Tillman Statue on the Statehouse grounds stands as a monument to a white supremacist from the State’s history. Erected in 1940 to memorialize the former SC Governor and Senator. As a Senator, his post-Reconstruction tactics to restore white rule in the then-majority-black state by killing any black who tried to vote. At a minimum, the monument should be updated to reflect his views, which it does not, or moved to the State Museum and taken off public display in front of our Statehouse.”
Until then, come rain or sleet the debate marches on.
SC Onward may be reached via their Facebook page.
Gary Votour can be reached via the SC Onward page, as he is a non-regular Facebook user.