WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A City Council member who said he was inspired by Alabama's ousted chief justice placed a 1-ton granite monument to the Ten Commandments in front of City Hall yesterday while it was closed for Martin Luther King Day.
Vernon Robinson said he and four others acted on the holiday because the empty parking lot allowed room for a truck and crane, which they used to position the monument at dawn.
The 4-foot-tall, blue-granite block is inscribed on one side with the Ten Commandments and on the other side with the Bill of Rights.
"This display is intended to acknowledge the undeniable role that the Ten Commandments and Bill of Rights have played in developing the American legal tradition," said Robinson, a Republican who has been on the City Council since 1998 and is running for a US House seat. "These are the ideas on which society has been built and these works encapsulate the belief system on which the republic was founded."
Mayor Allen Joines said the city would move quickly to remove the monument.
"No one -- the mayor, a City Council member, or citizen -- can put anything on a piece of city property," Joines said. "City Hall must be a place that everyone must be comfortable with. It belongs to all the people of Winston-Salem."
Robinson said he had no authorization to place the monument on public property. The $2,000 cost of buying and moving the monument was entirely his own, Robinson said.
Robinson said he was inspired to act by former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore, who ordered a 2 1/2-ton Ten Commandments monument placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in 2001.
A federal judge found the monument to be an unconstitutional promotion of religion by government. Moore was ousted from office last year for violating ethics rules by not obeying the order to remove the monument.