Group that wants WilCo Confederate statue removed speak at meeting

Residents in Williamson County on Tuesday debated whether a Confederate statue should be removed from the courthouse.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TEXAS - A group of Williamson County residents who want to remove a Confederate statue that stands outside the courthouse spoke at a commissioners' court meeting Tuesday.

"By honoring Confederates, we are honoring the ideology that whites are more human than others,” said one speaker.

"I feel it's part of my family's heritage,” said another.

The statue is of a Confederate soldier, built in 1916.

But many that spoke said they want the statue removed, or want to see a plaque added with historic details. 

"It makes a statement of divisiveness,” said Williamson County residents Clarissa Jackson. "As a black citizen, I feel disenfranchised from being a truly appreciated and welcome citizen.” 

Jackson thinks the statue should be moved to a local museum, or cemetery. 

On the other side, Mike Gavit said his great-great-grandfather fought in the Confederate army and he believes the statue honors families like his.

"The military monuments, the military statues that are being removed now, that's part of our heritage,” said Gavit. “These are our military monuments, and removing them in my opinion, is just wrong, we need to stop and think about this.”

He feels it's a matter of respect for history, and each other. 

“I wouldn’t deny anybody their heritage, I want people to understand that it’s their heritage, and you shouldn’t remove it, or try to destroy it,” said Gavit. 

Jaquita Wilson Kirby has been fighting the issue here for a while.

"I've been trying to do something about this confederate statue for the last year and a half,” said Kirby. “We didn’t want the world to think that Williamson county is just all about the confederacy, and all about racism and white supremacy, we wanted to give voice to the fact that there are people who live here who care about having equity for all.”

She doesn't feel the Civil War should be memorialized in this way. 

"I understand that children died, people died, but my people died, and had no choice in the matter," said Kirby. “Best case scenario is the removal of the statue, a compromise is a plaque, dedicated to explaining what this statue represents, and at least honoring the people who lost their lives on the courthouse because of the color of their skin.”

Kirby even wore purple to Tuesday's meeting, in honor of Heather Hayer, who died in the Charlotesville protests. 

“Understand that this young lady lost her life fighting for something she believed in, and she should be honored as well, we’re not speaking about her enough, we’re trying to ignore that death as a casualty of war, during what is supposed to be a peaceful protest, and I think that’s inexcusable, we need to understand that when we show up for these protests, when we show up to talk about these statues, we’re not showing up to be killed, and we’re not showing up to kill or hurt anyone,” said Kibry. 

Reverend Chuck Freeman also spoke at the regular commissioner meeting on Tuesday, and wants the statue taken down.

"What we know is these statues were not put up to honor confederate soldiers, they were put up to say, 'we're still in charge,” said Freeman.

But Ruth Molinari works at a business on the Georgetown square and wants to keep confederate statue, saying it's a piece of their past.

"This is Georgetown, this is Georgetown square, it's all set on history, you know we're not allowed to change the buildings, they're all on history, and so I think that this is definitely part of history,” said Molinari.

She hopes the statue will start important discussions.

"Seeing this, can open up the discussion about it, and how wrong that is,” said Molinari.

But for now, that's all the removal is - a discussion.

The topic is not on the commissioners court meeting agenda and no action will be taken Tuesday. The topic is not on the commissioners court agenda any time soon.

Kirby hopes it's something the groups can compromise on. 

“I think if we start addressing these things now, we can have true friendship, true relationships, true comradery, and that’s been missing for the last 100 plus years, since we had a civil war in our country,” said Kirby. 

This meeting is happening the day after the University of Texas removed four Confederate statues on the South Mall of campus Monday. Following violent incidents in Charlottesville and at the University of Virginia, UT President Greg Fenves said in a statement it's become clear now more than ever "that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism."

RELATED:

UT removes remaining Confederate statues from South Mall

What will happen to UT Confederate statues?

According to KVUE's Christy Millweard, Judge Dan Gattis is allowing five of the 13 people who signed up to speak at the Williamson County Commissioners Court meeting. 

One speaker said removing Confederate monuments will help the county heal more quickly.

 

 

Follow Millweard on Twitter for updates from the meeting:

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