Arizona may be geographically removed from the American South, but its historic connection to the War Between the States has created a modern controversy. The state is home to half-a-dozen Confederate monuments, which some residents want removed.
The meaning of the monuments and their adverse effect on the communities in which they exist were the principle topics in a letter issued by African-American leaders and officials. Claiming such memorials celebrate slavery and racism, the authors of the letter are asking for immediate action by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. A spokesman for the governor’s office said that Ducey had previously considered removing the monuments or at least changing their names. However, the same spokesman said that since the memorials fall under a different jurisdiction, any criticism should be directed elsewhere.
An adjutant with the Arizona Sons of Confederate Veterans condemned any plans for removing the monuments. Curt Tipton denounced as “ridiculous” the need to remove them simply because they offend somebody.
One of the monuments is in close proximity to the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix. Another, located on a highway near Apache Junction, is named after Jefferson Davis, who served as the president of the Confederacy until the end of the Civil War in 1865. An attempt by a state representative to rename this monument had previously failed.
The war against Confederate symbols was largely fueled by the killing of nine African-American parishioners in a South Carolina church in 2015, the mass murder having been committed by a white supremacist. The monuments have themselves sparked lesser forms of violence, with some having been vandalized in different areas of the country. Alternatively, there are reports that contractors hired to remove some of the monuments have taken steps to protect their employees from possible violence.
Although Arizona did not become a state until 47 years after the end of the Civil War, a section of what today constitutes the state was once considered to be a part of the Confederacy. More than 300 soldiers who served in Confederate military forces are today buried in Arizona.