Monument task force member removed

Published 11:09 am Friday, October 16, 2020

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Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors removed Albert Burckard from its Confederate monument task force Thursday evening after learning of an email Burckard had sent, stating he was “disappointed” in the performance of the group’s Black appointees.

The Board had appointed the task force members earlier this month for the purpose of evaluating potential relocation sites should the monument be moved from its current home in front of the county’s government complex, and coming up with potential verbiage for a sign contextualizing it if it stays.

Albert Burckard, whom the Board appointed to represent the county’s historical society on the task force, had written to fellow task force member Volpe Boykin, copying two others, roughly an hour after the group’s inaugural meeting on Oct. 7. In that email, which the Board asked County Attorney Bobby Jones to read into the record prior to the removal vote, Burckard complained that Black task force members Derek Boone, Ray Gibbs and the Rev. Dr. Lilton Marks’ “entire argument against the memorial was that it offended them.”

“Derek is a shouter and Lilton is a filibusterer,” Burckard continues. “All three are trying to make this just a racial issue, which it is not. It is about respecting the history of others.”

Burckard also took aim at Rebecca Mercer, the one white member of the group who had sided with the three Black members in favor of relocation during the Oct. 7 meeting.

“Becky Mercer, as much as I really love her for being crucial in helping my son graduate, is a typical white government school person full of the usual platitudes of the left,” Burckard writes. “I want to say to all of the black men, ‘stop your whining and man up and stop pretending you’re a victim of a 115-year-old piece of granite.’”

“There’s no doubt that I’ve known Albert Burckard for a while, a long while, more than 20 years,” said Board Chairman Joel Acree. “So the content of his email … bothers me.”

The removal vote came following a half-hour closed session to discuss the “appointment or performance of specific appointees.” In Burckard’s place, the Board appointed Joan Jones, who had attended the Oct. 7 meeting as an observer. Jones is the immediate past president of Isle of Wight’s Chapter No. 699 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Burckard, when asked for his reaction to the vote, said he stands by what he wrote in his email.

“I stand by that; it was exactly my observation and it’s exactly what I think,” Burckard said. “I really think that the NAACP and BLM [Black Lives Matter] are way out of line in trying to destroy other people’s history.”

Burckard added that he still plans to attend future meetings of the task force as an observer, since they are open to the public.

On Sunday, Burckard sent another email, this time addressed to each member of the Board of Supervisors, asking that Boone also be removed from the task force for speaking “words of racist intent” during the county’s Sept. 3 public hearing on the monument.

“You will see Derek Boone tell you he is tired of looking at the Board and seeing ‘one black man’ and a few seconds later he appears to call you ‘… white supremacists …,’” Burckard writes. “Several Carrollton Civic League members have complained to me that Derek Boone certainly does not represent the views of the Newport Election District.”

Boone’s exact words during the hearing concerning the Board of Supervisors were “I’m tired of looking at our Board of Supervisors and seeing one Black man sit at the table.” His “white supremacist” comments, which appear to be in reference to the monument, not the Board, were,  “We will not walk on the courthouse, no longer, and be afraid because a white supremacist stands in front of us and tells us that we should not be equal to those who are there, so when we go see a judge that does not look like us, when we go see a judge that wants to lock us up, because history tells him we are no good.”

Boykin acknowledged having received Burckard’s email but says he didn’t respond to it. He declined to comment on whether he found anything Burckard had said inflammatory or racist.

“My personal views don’t have any bearing on it; the Board saw it, dealt with it; they took the person that wrote it off,” he said.