PINE BLUFF – A statue at the entrance to the Jefferson County Detention Center, reminiscent of civil war casualties, will be removed if the District Judge finds his will.
District Judge Gerald Robinson said he was considering removing the statue because he thought it was an inappropriate symbol.
"I think we're trying to move forward in this day and age, especially when it comes to race harmony," Robinson said. "I do not think the Confederation statue is our country."
Robinson does not dispute the historical significance of the monument, but he said the story he reflects relates to a time in American history when slavery tore the nation apart and embedded it in a civil war that has since left a shadow ,
"That's not what this country is about," Robinson said. "We have to keep going."
It is unclear whether Robinson can order the removal of the statue on his own or whether he will need the approval of the Jefferson County Quorum Court. Robinson said he had asked a lawyer to find out what authority is needed to remove the statue.
Confederate symbolism was scrutinized throughout the country as part of the massacre of nine black church visitors from the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylann Roof, a white suprematist, was sentenced to death in connection with the killings. He is on the death row of the Federal Prison in Terre Haute, Ind.
This mass shooting triggered a nationwide movement to remove Confederate monuments, flags, and other public-sector symbols and rename schools, parks, streets, and other public works that pay homage to the Confederation.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center report "Whose Heritage?" Since the massacre in Charleston, 114 confederate symbols have been removed across the country. More than 1,700 such symbols, including the Jefferson County Courthouse, are retained, according to the report.
Seth Levi, who helped draft the report, said that the organization's position is that Confederate symbolism is a distorted view of history and should not be portrayed in publicly obsessed spaces.
"These monuments were set up in the decades after the Civil War as part of a propaganda campaign to try to explain exactly what the Confederacy was about and why the war was waged, which is known as the" lost cause "novel," said Levi. "In our opinion, these monuments are symbols of white superiority and should not be public reasons."
The 20-foot statue in the Jefferson County Courthouse, which depicts a Confederate infantryman at its head, was erected in 1910 by the David Owen Dodd Chapter of the United Confederate Daughters, according to an inscription engraved on the statue's pedestal.
The inscription at the foot of the memorial reads: "In memory of our allied soldiers / we do not care where they came from in their lifeless tone, whether they were known or unknown / their cause and their land still the same – they died and carried the gray. "
The statue was originally erected on July 22, 1910 on the grounds of Pine Bluff High School Encyclopedia of the history and culture of Arkansas, In 1974, the monument was relocated to the north side of the Jefferson County Courthouse. It was incorporated into the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
Numerous communications requesting comments on the National Headquarters of the Confederate United Daughters in Richmond, Virginia, were not returned.
Loy Mauch, a former legislator from Hot Springs and commander of the James M. Keller Camp 648 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said the Jefferson County statue was a memorial to the Confederates who are dead and should remain as such.
"Many soldiers were killed in the field, they were buried in the field in mass graves, in trenches, exactly where they could use them," said Mauch. "For the families who never knew where their loved ones were buried, they are like cemetery markings."
Jefferson County Judge of Peace, who was contacted by Arkansas Democrat Gazette They were not sure whether the authority to dismantle the statues lay solely with the district judge or the approval of the college was required.
Justice of the Peace has called Ted Harden "a gray area". He pointed out that the district judge was responsible for the building and grounds, but he would prefer to leave the matter alone.
"I really do not see any need for it," Harden said. "It will only attract attention, and nobody really worries about it.
"I think the district judge is doing a great job, he really cares about everything he does, the county, I just do not think that's a problem he has to accept."
Justice of the Peace Alfred Carroll Sr. said he had no objection to the dismantling of the statue but would like it to be kept in a different location as a historical artifact.
"I think we have items in the County Museum that clearly depict our past here in the south, and I think the statue would be the same as if we had a photograph or if we brought another cotton gin or shackles." Carroll said. "Certainly it is a reminder of our past and should be preserved as such."
Mayor of Pine Bluff Shirley Washington supports the district judge's request to remove the statue.
"As mayor of a city with a rich history, I understand the meaning of the Confederate statue," Washington said in a statement released. "My mantra is" One Pine Bluff is stronger together. "The message the statue represents is separation and not union."
The Arkansas legislature had not passed a law in the session just concluded protecting certain monuments owned by the public, including those that would honor the civil war.
Asked about the possibility that the bill could somehow return in the future, Robinson said he was not worried.
"It will be gone at the next session."
This statue, reminiscent of Confederate Civil War veterans, stands in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse. ">
Photo by Dale Ellis
This statue, reminiscent of Confederate Civil War veterans, stands in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse.
State Desk on 14.04.2014
Print Headline: District official wants the Confederacy to be defeated in central Arkansas