North Carolina removed two Civil War era monuments Saturday as Gov. Roy Cooper followed through on his long-stated desire to eliminate Confederate statues from the state's capitol in Raleigh.
Protesters tore down two nearby statues on Friday, prompting Cooper to order the removal of both a United Daughters of the Confederacy monument and a statue honoring Henry Wyatt, the first North Carolina soldier killed in the Civil War.
Cooper said removing both statues was a "public safety imperative."
"If the legislature had repealed their 2015 law that puts up legal roadblocks to removal we could have avoided the dangerous incidents of last night," Cooper said.
The roadblocks Cooper referenced were legislative provisions forbidding any removal of public memorials without the approval of a state historical commission. Citing injuries to officers of the State Capitol Police during Friday's protest, the governor said the law's public safety exception provided him legal justification.
"Monuments to white supremacy don't belong in places of allegiance, and it's past time that these painful memorials be moved in a legal, safe way," Cooper said.