November 28, 2020

Protesters call for removal of Confederate monument in heart of Mississippi college town

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in a Mississippi county to call for the removal of a Confederate monument officials have previously refused to relocate.

A group of veterans, business leaders and community members gathered near the statue in downtown Oxford on Monday morning to demand the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors move the monument, news outlets reported.

The protesters say removing the statue, which sits in a prominent square near the county courthouse, could help bring the community together. But Lafayette supervisors in July voted unanimously against relocation, arguing that moving the monument would not create unity, news outlets reported.

Since then, Oxford officials have also raised questions about whether the monument is located on county or city-owned land and who has the authority to decide if it can be moved, The Journal reported.

City officials allege Lafayette supervisors have not answered letters requesting information on its claim to own the statue.

Demonstrator Jerry Townsend said Monday that the monument, which includes a statue of a soldier holding a rifle atop a stone obelisk, is a symbol of racial violence.

“The Confederate statue, its meaning and purpose, is no different than the knee on the neck of George Floyd,” the newspaper quoted Townsend as saying.

Communities around the world have faced similar demands to address racist legacies during demonstrations sparked in part by the May death of Floyd after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee against his neck for several minutes.

The downtown Oxford statue is not the only Confederate memorial in the city. In mid-July, the University of Mississippi moved a separate one from a central spot on its campus to a secluded Civil War cemetery on the school’s grounds.