A day after strongly condemning hate groups, Gov. Doug Ducey said he will not push for the removal Confederate monuments on state property.
"It's not my desire or mission to tear down any monuments or memorials," Ducey said Monday.
[SLIDESHOW: Where are Arizona's Confederate monuments?]
The planned removal of a statue memorializing the Confederacy's top general, Robert E. Lee, sparked a weekend of violent and deadly clashes in Charlottesville, VA between white nationalists and counter protesters.
There are six Confederate memorials on state land throughout Arizona, including one at Wesley Bolin Plaza right by the State Capitol. Greenwood Memory Lawn Mortuary & Cemetery (Phoenix) Wesley Bolin Memorial Park (Phoenix) Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery (Sierra Vista) Picacho Peak State Park (Picacho) Dragoon Spring U.S. 60 at Peralta Road (Apache Junction)Arizona civil rights leaders have demanded their removal, describing the monuments as symbols of racial hatred and terror.
In June, leaders from local NAACP chapters called on Ducey to remove the monuments, including one at the state capitol that was erected in 1961. Others include a marker at Picacho Peak north of Tucson dedicated to Confederate soldiers who defended the area during a battle.
The monument at the Capitol is administered by a commission whose members are appointed by legislative leaders, the chairman of Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the Phoenix mayor and the governor. Highway names are handled by the Board on Geographic and Historic Names, which Ducey doesn't directly control but which includes a majority of nominees from executive departments and citizens who are appointed to their jobs by the governor.
Rep. Reginald Bolding, the only black state lawmaker and among those who called on Ducey to pull the monuments in June, said the governor obviously has done nothing to encourage the boards to act.
[SLIDESHOW: Confederate Monuments]
"If the board was pushing for this, if the governor's office was pushing for this, if our legislative leaders, the Senate president and speaker of the House, if they were pushing for this, it would happen quickly," Bolding said. "My hope and my community's hope is he will join our call and help expedite the process."
The governor said Monday he was unsure what the monuments symbolized.
"I can't tell you exactly what these monuments represent. I know this is part of our history; we fought a civil war and the United States won and we freed the slaves and we followed up with civil rights after that," Ducey said.
Ducey does not have the sole authority to get rid of the monuments. Those decisions are made by state boards and commissions, in which many are appointed by the governor.
On Sunday, following the deadly confrontations in Charlottesville, VA, in which a woman was killed by a suspected Nazi sympathizer, the governor condemned white nationalists groups on social media.
He doubled down on those comments today, saying, "I categorically 100 percent condemned these hate groups -- the KKK the Klan, neo-Nazis, white nationalists."
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