South Carolina lawmaker plans to add black victims to white supremacist monument

South Carolina lawmaker plans to add black victims to white supremacist monument
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A South Carolina mayor is adding the black victims of a Reconstruction-era clash between black militia and a white mob to a monument honoring a white supremacist, CNN reported Saturday.

"It's an opportunity to look at something divisive for the community and hopefully make it a positive for the community," the North Augusta Mayor Bob Pettit told the network.

The stone obelisk, erected in 1916, honors Thomas McKie Meriwether who died during an 1876 riot that also resulted in the deaths of seven black men.

The riot, known as the Hamburg Massacre, broke out as armed white men attempted to take over a predominantly black town of the same name, Pettit said.

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The monument is inscribed with a message saying that Meriwether "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."

Petit acknowledged that the writing on the monument makes clear that the obelisk supports white supremacy, but said he does not think it can be taken down due to possible protections under South Carolina's Heritage Act. The law prevents certain historical monuments on public land from being taken down.

"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."

The city is waiting for state attorney general to clarify that rule, Pettit told CNN, but he said he hopes to move ahead with the recommendations from his report.

Pettit devised the report beginning with a committee of six people — half black and half white — to investigate the monument's history. Pettit then determined that the best way to amend the monument is to recognize the seven black men killed in the riot.

The report also recommended erecting sculptures or plaques to provide context about the massacre and Jim Crow era.