GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Local activists in Gaston County are upset after two Gaston County judges signed an administrative order banning protests within 300 feet of the courthouse.
This comes amid continued demonstrations over a Confederate Monument in front of the courthouse, which was supposed to be removed last month until those plans fell through.
The order, filed last month by Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jesse Caldwell, III, and Chief District Court Judge John Greenlee, banned any protest conducting within 300 feet of the courthouse Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hon. Caldwell, III told WCNC Charlotte he signed the order following a "disruptive protest" in early-August over the monument.
He said the protest was loud and prevented court employees from doing their work.
The ACLU of North Carolina said it's "deeply concerned" about the order and called it a "blanket prohibition" against speech.
ACLU attorney Dan Siegel said they'll be monitoring the situation in the coming days.
On Friday afternoon, roughly a dozen people stood outside the courthouse to protest the order.
Despite being within 300 feet of the courthouse, deputies didn't make any arrests.
For years, the statue of the Confederate soldier has caused divided discussion throughout the town—some who say it should stay, others who hope to see it go.
RELATED: Sons of Confederate Veterans' attorney talks options as Confederate monument remains at Gaston County courthouse
“They’re hurtful,” North Carolina Senator Natasha Marcus said. “They are relics to the Jim Crow past and our past of slavery. They are monuments to the Confederacy which were efforts to keep certain people enslaved for the rest of their lives.”
Senator Marcus also mentioned that as a lawmaker she is doing her part to try and get a current state law overturned which states monuments on public property can not be removed. But in the case of this Confederate monument in Cornelius, it sits on private property and is owned by the Mt. Zion Monument Association. As the owners, they have the final say.
Some community members are saying the time to act is now.
“People are looking for justice. We are looking for equality,” resident Pam Jones said. “We don’t want to have a monument to white supremacy and racism standing in our community any longer.”