Citizen wants Confederate States of America monument moved from Attala County courthouse grounds

By KAREN FIORETTI,

Come Monday morning, Jerone Garland will be formally asking the Attala County Board of Supervisors to move the Confederate States of America monument from in front of the courthouse in downtown Kosciusko.

The supervisors will meet at 9 a.m. in the Chancery Court building at 230 W. Washington St., Kosciusko.

Garland told The Star-Herald he does not want the monument destroyed, but wants it moved to a more appropriate location. Options include moving it to a cemetery where Confederate soldiers are buried or onto private property, though others may offer alternate solutions, he said.

“There is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and I want to do this the right way,” Garland said of his request.

He said he believes the people of Attala County can handle these sensitive matters peacefully and avoid the violence similar efforts have brought to other communities, most recently Charlottesville, Virginia.“It was the outsiders that came into their community that caused all the trouble. That is why I want to let my community know what it is we’re trying to do,” he said. “We need to be kind. I’m not trying to start a fight; I love my community.”

In an earlier post on his facebook page, Garland laid out why he feels the monument should be removed from its current prominent location.

“The county courthouse is where education, judicial, voting and property rights are determined, recorded and adjudicated,” he wrote. “How can a people expect fairness when the officials that make those determinations pass daily through the shadow of a monument celebrating a war fought and lost in an effort to deny their civil rights?”

Garland said, however, that he respects the history.

“I’m not trying to be disrespectful of those people or their culture, but one’s rights shouldn’t go against another’s rights. If 80 percent say ‘I want those statues’ while they are offensive to 20 percent, they need to be removed if you care about your neighbors,” he said.

Garland said he hopes for a peaceful compromise reached by people talking to each other, and not the violence that has damaged other communities.

“I really hope not; I pray not. I want us to have a conversation and have our community decide the best way to move forward on this,” he said.

“I don’t want the violence, the confrontation or the noise. We just need to find a path forward. We need to respect one another as equal under the eyes of God. I hope it’s positive and I hope it’s thoughtful; that they can see it through the eyes of their neighbors. If we all respond in love, it will be a thoughtful conversation,” Garland added.

Chancery Clerk Gerry Taylor, who acts as clerk of the Board of Supervisors, said he, too, expects the matter to be discussed respectfully, based on the local history in relation to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“The black leaders and the white leaders got along. They sat down at the table and talked,” he said. “We’ve never had the kind of protests here that have happened elsewhere. It may have been a problem other places, but we have been able to avoid all that, thank God.”

Some who responded to Garland’s facebook post noted they hadn’t ever even noticed the statue and that its presence didn’t bother them. He said, however, that the fact that others are very aware of its presence and symbolism matters just the same.

“Most of the community don’t know it is there, but the statues are a relic of the past that we need to put behind us. They are a symbol of, ‘We don’t care what you say, we’re going to do what we’re going to do,’” Garland said. “We need to get past the Civil War, the arguments, the anger, and recognize that we are brothers. It is time to let it go.”