October 21, 2020

Mayor: ‘Mission accomplished’ after Confederate march passes without problems

The mayor of a Mississippi town heralded the good work of her community’s law enforcement leaders and residents after two outside groups came to town last weekend for a pro-Confederate march and the protest was done peacefully.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill lauded Oxford Police Department and said she was proud of the police for planning and executing a plan to ensure the rally was able to march from the Oxford Square to the University of Mississippi’s campus.

“Our community demonstrated that allowing freedom of expression obviously is not an endorsement of divisive speech,” the mayor said. “The city of Oxford cannot prevent protest based on content of speech or beliefs. and allowing these protests to take place I think shows that we can have a demonstration of freedom of speech and also provide great public safety and respect.”

The two out-of-state, neo-Confederate groups – the Hiwaymen and Confederate-901 – marched from the Confederate monument on the square to another Confederate monument in The Circle on campus.

The rally began at 1 p.m. on the Square and began to march to the second Confederate monument just after 2 p.m. When the rally arrived at the second monument at about 2:30, they were allowed to stay on the university grounds for an hour until 3:30 p.m.

The rally didn’t go without response, however, as eight Ole Miss men’s basketball players knelt during the national anthem in protest of the pro-Confederate group’s march through campus.

“We’re just tired of these hate groups coming to our school and portraying our campus,” Ole Miss player Breein Tyree said. “We saw one of our teammates doing it and we didn’t want him to be alone.”

In preparation for the rally, all three law enforcement bodies, the Lafayette County Sheriff, UM police and OPD, signed an agreement to allow each body to share officers in case of an emergency last week.

No emergency occurred, and Tannehill said she saw one media outlet describe the rally as “anticlimactic.” To that, Tannehill said “mission accomplished.”

“The amazing professionals that work for the police department really just have our utmost respect on how they handled all the public safety issues over the past week,” Tannehill said. “The city of Oxford has taken the events of the past week very seriously, maybe more seriously than the public knew.”