Opposing groups to rally at Ole Miss over Confederate symbolism

Published 1:25 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Two opposing group plan to rally on the Ole Miss campus Saturday — one in support of Confederate monuments on campus and in the city of Oxford and the other group calling for the removal of monuments.

Ole Miss Police sent a letter to university staff, faculty and students asking all to avoid areas of the campus where the rallies will be held.

“Our highest priority is to maintain a safe campus environment, and the University Police Department has worked with local and state law enforcement agencies in preparation for these events,” the statement from University Police Chief Ray Hawkins read.

His letter comes after it was discovered a group out of Memphis called Confederate 901 plan to hold a march that will begin at the Oxford Square at 1 p.m. and conclude at the Circle on the Ole Miss campus at approximately 2 p.m.

The rally is schedule to last until 5 p.m. on Saturday.

An ‘elevated law-enforcement presence’ on the march route will exist, including both on and off campus to assist in keeping the community safe Hawkins wrote in the letter.

Confederate 901’s reasoning behind the rally is due to the call for Confederate monuments on campus and on the Square to be taken down in recent years. In response to the pro-Confederate rally an ‘Anti-Confederate Counter Rally’ will also take place at the same time as Confederate 901 is holding theirs.

The group holding the counter rally posted on the event’s Facebook page it will be a “peaceful protest” and will “not tolerate violence or provocations of violence.”

The group was not shy, however, about stating the purpose for the counter rally.

“It seems that Secessionists never learn. Confederate 901 has decided to bring their outdated ideals to the University of Mississippi,” the counter rally’s social media post read. “Unable to get over the fact that their ancestors lost a war 154 years ago, they foolishly believe that they will find safe-haven on the campus of Mississippi’s flagship university.”

Ole Miss police were moving quickly to quell potential for discord before it happens.

“The best thing you can do to help keep our campus safe is to stay away from this area of campus on Saturday, February 23,” the statement continued to read. “Your cooperation and support allow us to perform our jobs in the best possible way.”

The university is holding a Community Conversation on Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Union Ballroom regarding this weekend’s planned events.

Speakers who will be in attendance at the conversation include Dr. Brandi Hephner LeBlanc, vice chancellor for student affairs; Dr. Neal Hutchens, chair and professor of higher education in the School of Education; UPD police chief Ray Hawkins and Dr. Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement.