National Action Network calls for John C. Calhoun statue to come down

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The National Action Network is calling for a downtown statue to be taken down.

The John C. Calhoun statue has stood in Marion Square in downtown Charleston for more than 100 years.

Calhoun was a statesman, the seventh vice president of the United States, and a big supporter of slavery.

On Sunday, the National Action Network held a news conference in Whitepoint Garden and demanded the statue be taken down.

"You cannot make ugly pretty," National Action Vice President Nelson Rivers said. "I don't care how hard you try, hate is hate. Whether you mask it or not we ought to be leading the nation and taking it down."

On Monday, the chairman of the South Carolina Secessionist Party accused the National Action Network of using the violence in Charlottesville just to target the statue.

"If you want to do something, own it and say you want to do it. Don't wait for somebody to die to push your agenda," James Bessenger said.

The National Action Network wants Mayor John Tecklenburg to support taking down the Calhoun statue.

However, the land it sits on is owned by the Washington Light Infantry and the Sumter Guard.

Ultimately it could be up to the state legislature to decide if the statue stays or goes. 

Under the Heritage Act, it takes at least a two-thirds vote by the house and senate to remove any Confederate monument.

If the statue remains, the National Action Network wants plaques put around it to tell what they say is the real story about slavery.

"If they decide they want to keep these monuments up, then we want a platform up telling them exactly how much slaves they owned, how many kids they killed, how many families they divided," National Action Network State President Elder James Johnson said.

"I think that's ridiculous. If you want to build a new monument telling your own story what you think happened that's perfectly fine, but you don't go to a monument that's been around for 100 plus years and start refacing it. That's ridiculous," Bessenger said.

It appears neither side in the controversy over the statue is willing to give any ground.

Two news conferences are scheduled for Tuesday to address the violence in Charlottesville and the Calhoun statue.

The Charleston NAACP will hold a news conference at 11 a.m.and the National Action Network also is planning a news conference at noon.

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