Officials in Lafayette County, Mississippi, voted Monday night to leave a Confederate statue in place, saying that its removal wouldn’t solve racial problems in the country.
As The Daily Journal reported, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors had not been scheduled to vote on the matter of the monument in downtown Oxford. However, the board amended Monday night’s meeting schedule to make room for a discussion and vote on a proposal to move the statue, which has stood in the town since 1907, to somewhere else on county property.
In a unanimous vote, all five members of the council — all white men — decided against removing the statue, agreeing that moving it would not cause genuine racial reconciliation.
District 4 Supervisor Chad McLarty, for example, said that he himself has been a victim of racism, though he didn’t specify how.
“I’ve also been a victim of police brutality. What I do know is there are a lot of bad people in this world, and no matter how many statues, flags or pancake boxes you take down, they will still exist,” he said.
District 3 Supervisor David Rikard referenced “outside pressure” regarding the monument, and said that he consulted with Black residents about the statue before casting his vote.
“I want to encourage our community to come together. There’s been a lot of divisiveness. And I will say that I believe the majority of our community is standing together,” he said.
According to WLOX-TV, another, unspecified board member noted that the Oxford statue, unlike other Confederate statues that have been removed lately, doesn’t reference a specific person, such as Robert E. Lee or Nathan Bedford Forrest. Rather, it depicts a generic Confederate soldier, and serves to honor the men from Lafayette County who served in the Civil War and didn’t make it home.
Don Cole, a former administrator at the University of Mississippi, spoke in favor of moving the statue. He noted that, in his view, the members of the board voted in favor of keeping the statue in order to preserve their jobs.
“History will prove them to be on the wrong side and this particular battle will continue,” he said.
Lafayette County’s decision to keep the statue stands in contrast to decisions made in other cities and counties — including many in the South — to remove such monuments. For example, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, the city of Mobile, Alabama, decided to move a statue of a Confederate admiral to a museum, where it could be protected from vandals and understood in its historical context.