Committee votes to have attorney look into the legal implications of removing Confederate monument from the Union County Courthouse

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Ark. (06/23/20) — A heated debate has started in El Dorado on whether or not to remove a Confederate monument that sits on the Union County Courthouse lawn.

A sub-committee of the Quorum Court was formed in less than a week to address the issue that was brought up during last week’s regular scheduled quorum court meeting.

The group is made up of four volunteer members which includes, Carolyn Jones who will serve as the committee chairperson, Cecil Polk, Greg Garrison and one community member at large, Bishop George Calloway.

“We wanted to meet expediently so that we could start the process,” Jones said. “This committee will not be making a recommendation. We will be gathering the facts and then we will present the facts to the quorum court.”

The members met for a special called meeting to make a motion to wait to get legal questions answered on what would have to happen to legally remove the monument which was erected in 1910 and commemorates men in Union County who served in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War in 1861-1865.

Many community members showed up to the meeting which most heard about through Facebook. The meeting was only to discuss how the committee would move forward but it didn’t keep some from voicing their opinions of the removal even being a topic of conversation.

“For me, it’s stupid that we have to meet for this,” one man commented. “Whoever is the power that be ought to have already said the statue has been here for years and it’s going to be here for another several years.”

The committee voted to have the county’s attorney compile all of the legal information surrounding the monuments removal.

Historian of the Son’s of the Confederate Veterans National Organization, Todd Owens, says he has a personal connection with the monument. His family members fought in the Confederate Army and some of them witnessed when it was being built in the 1900s.

“We have to protect their honor, their heritage and stand up for what they fought and died for,” Owens said. “We can not judge that monument by today’s standards. They fought for what they believe in. They fought for state’s rights and the other lie that is projected out there is not the truth.”

Glenn Glover believes otherwise and supports removing the statue from the courthouse lawn.

“I pay taxes at this courthouse,” he said. “I find that statue to be offensive. It was put up during racism and white supremacy.”

Despite the difference of opinions, both Glover and Owners agree that there should be some common ground so that everyone’s history is preserved.

“We need to preserve our heritage and everybody’s heritage,” Owens said. “Not only mine but this gentlemen that brought the complaint to the court. If we do away with our heritage, we don’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve come from.”

Glover believes the common ground isn’t proposing for the statue to be torn down but to simply be moved to another location, which Owens agrees that would be the best way to satisfy everyone.

“There’s a cemetery that’s about two blocks away on South Washington,” Glover said. “I think that would be a perfect back drop to put it.”

Jones mentioned in the meeting that the court wanted to hear the public’s voice and is accepting written testimonies so that no one’s words are misunderstood.

“Right now, we don’t even know what the legalities are and that’s why we’re asking for clarification on that but with that being said anyone has the opportunity to give me a call,” Greg Harrison said. “They can stress to me. They can stress to Mr. Cecil, Mr. Calloway or Mrs. Carolyn about what your concerns are and then at the same time you have the opportunity to provide it in writing.”

Union County Judge, Mike Loftin said the court would like to receive those testimonies by July 10.

A packet with the testimonies and information complied from the attorney and sub-committee will be given to the quorum court members to vote at the meeting in August.

The public will be notified of all public meetings.

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