Citizens voice views on Confederate memorial

Published 8:51 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Residents addressed the Demopolis City Council Thursday with their opinions about the future of the Confederate memorial monument ahead of an expected vote on the issue in the near future.

The opinions stated were both for and against replacing the Confederate soldier that had once stood atop the pedestal in downtown Demopolis. The soldier was damaged and removed after an accident involving a Demopolis police officer last summer.

Phillip Spence addressed the council stating that the statue was a gift that was paid for over 100 years ago and that current-day officials should respect their efforts.

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“Those ladies raised the money to put up the monument to recognize their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers who never returned home,” Spence said. “It was a gift to the city to ensure to ensure it would be cared for through the centuries. I ask that you remember what these ladies did.”

Others felt the statue glories the Confederacy and slavery.

“The Confederacy was created from the question of slavery and to suggest it has nothing to do with it is dishonest. This is the City of the People, not some people, but all people. I ask that you consider all the people,” said local attorney Barrown Lankster.

The idea was also presented that a compromise on the issue could involve a Civil Rights monument in downtown.

There was a point where the mayor and council thought the public comments were completed, and a vote was taken to go into executive session for financial matters. When others stated they wanted to speak, Mayor John Laney said they could address the council following the executive session.

Upon returning to regular session, County Commissioner Freddie Armstead addressed the council.

“We can work together to solve this problem,” Armstead said. “We all have different opinions. Perhaps we can do both of them [referring to a Civil Rights statue]. Let’s do what we need to do and stop arguing about it.”

Harold Park, a resident who has addressed the council about the statue in previous meetings.

“For 105 years that statue has stood there, and there are many of us who love the statue,” Park said. “If this is going to divide us, we are willing to come together and be supportive (of a Civil Rights monument).”

Bryant Carter said the statue could be taken to another location. According to Council Member Harris Nelson, the historical society has suggested the statue could be housed at the Marengo County History Archives and Museum.