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CLEVELAND — The Bolivar County Board of Supervisors has voted to remove the Confederate monument in front of the Cleveland courthouse.
Supervisor Jacorius Liner made the motion to remove it; no supervisors voted against the motion. At their last meeting, the board authorized attorney Ellis Turnage to look into the legality of removing the monument.
Turnage informed the board of state law at their regular Monday meeting — that for a Confederate monument to be moved it must be placed in a suitable location such as a cemetery or historical Civil War site.
No decisions have yet been made by the board as to where the statue will go, when, or how much it will cost.
“Our responsibility today is not to find a suitable place [for the monument to go], but to make a decision to have it removed and then we can begin to have those discussions with the appropriate entities across the state later,” Liner said.
Board vice-president Donny Whitten initially wanted to delay the vote until the county had all questions answered about costs and logistics of moving the monument. When it came time for the vote, however, he did not vote against it.
“To move [the Confederate monument] without having all questions answered is premature. But I understand the heartfelt emotions and reasonings behind the motion. I absolutely do,” Whitten said.
A group of about 20 people marched to the monument on July 3 demanding that the statue be removed, that no county or city dollars be used to remove it. The group also demanded that it be replaced by a monument honoring Black liberation commissioned by a Black artist from Bolivar county, and that the county and city shift resources away from policing and toward “community-led educational and recreational programs for Black youth.”
Liner, the supervisor, stated during the meeting that the county should bear the costs of moving the monument.
“It’s on our property, on our lawn. It would be our responsibility to bear the cost whatever the cost,” Liner said.
This decision is the latest in a flood of movement across the state and nation to halt the glorification of the Confederacy, the most notable example perhaps being the Mississippi Legislature’s recent decision to change the state flag, which was the last in the nation to bear the Confederate emblem.
The monument in Bolivar County was erected in 1908 and was sponsored by the Daughters of the Confederacy; their movement was part of a larger effort to re-write the history of the Confederacy and promote that the Civil War was more about “states’ rights” than it was about slavery.
Toward the end of the meeting, Board vice-president Larry King commented that Confederate statues celebrate, “those that enslave us (African-Americans). I think we’re doing right to end that celebration and celebrate something more positive.”