Charleston’s city council voted unanimously on Tuesday to remove and relocate a statue of former vice president and slave advocate John C. Calhoun from a downtown square.
The approved resolution will allow the 100-foot monument in Marion Square to be moved to “an appropriate site where it will be protected and preserved.” The 13-0 vote came almost a week after Mayor John Tecklenburg (D) announced he would send the resolution to the legislature.
A special panel will determine the new destination for the statue, and a date for its removal has not been scheduled, The Associated Press reported.
“I believe that we are setting a new chapter, a more equitable chapter, in our city’s history,” Tecklenburg said before the vote, according to the AP. “We are making the right step. It’s just simply the right thing for us to do.”
Most of the public comments were in favor of removing or relocating the statue, with about 291 in favor of the resolution and about 50 advocating to keep the monument, the Charleston City Paper reported.
Calhoun strongly backed slavery, calling the institution a “positive good” and saying it should spread to western territories.
The mayor has argued that the removal of the statue does not violate South Carolina’s 2000 Heritage Act, which prevents changes to historical monuments and names of buildings, because the monument is not on public property or in commemoration of a historical event listed in the act.
The city technically leases the land where the statue is, according to the National Parks Service, the AP reported.
The vote comes days after the five-year anniversary of the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that left nine African Americans dead.
Calls for the removal of statues of Confederate leaders have been revamped in the past month after protests erupted over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Several demonstrators have toppled and defaced these monuments as part of protests.