EL DORADO, Ark. (7/10/20) — Today was the deadline for residents to submit their opinions about the fate of the Confederate statue that stands on the Union County Courthouse lawn.
The day is getting closer for residents to find out what exactly will happen to the monument.
Union County Judge Mike Loftin has said each Quorum Court member will receive packets with the legal information, letters and signed petitions this weekend with hopes that a decision can be made at the next meeting on July 16.
“We don’t want it moved from where it’s at,” Larry Hale said. “Taking down that statue isn’t going to change history in any way at all. It’s just moving it over somewhere.”
“We’re just trying to move forward in the best way that we can,” South Arkansas Against Hate group member, Jacarlus Hill said.
Residents had over two weeks to their submit letters. Some didn’t hesitate to write, hand deliver or mail theirs in while others waited until the last day.
“I just wanted to take it all in so that I could have a thoughtful statement,” Joanna Benson said.
The weeks preceding to the Friday deadline have been met with numerous protests, countless conversations and rallies to get people’s signature for the petitions.
“Some people have been missing work,” South Arkansas Against Hate group member, Erica Hinton said.
With all of the work each side has put into the future of the statue, they all say they’ve at least learned one thing.
“The history of El Dorado, El Dorado’s history with the confederacy and El Dorado’s history with slavery,” Hill, SAAH member said.
“It’s taught me to open my eyes and watch what’s going on a little better,” Hale said.
Hale and his wife Linda were among a small group of people that were gathering signatures last Thursday in support of keeping the monument at the courthouse.
Some witnesses claimed Hale brandished weapons to the opposing side across the street while he and his wife that’s not true.
“The first day we were up here we had so much trouble. That bunch down there orchestrated what happened to use over there,” he said. “They set it up, done it, filmed it when we had never moved from that one spot.”
Hale and his wife have received many calls from those in Louisiana who have asked for help in the event their towns are faced in a similar situation as Union County.
“They’re calling from South Louisiana and closer places up here asking for help,” he said.
Hale believes his opinion about Confederate symbols doesn’t make him a racist or means he hates others in anyway.
“A confederate flag means to me that I’m from the south. I fly my flag for just strictly being out of the south,” Hale said. “It doesn’t mean slavery to me. It doesn’t mean anything negative. It’s just a flag saying we’re from the south.”
The South Arkansas Against Hate group is proud that such a diverse group has come together to see the statue be relocated.
One of the groups that collected signatures was able to get about 1,000 signatures for the petition.
“It’s really our proof of how many people want change,” Jessica Pendergraph said.
The group hopes this movement will spark change regarding other issues minorities face in El Dorado including racial bias in healthcare, prescription costs, infrastructure issues and violence in the community
If both sides can’t agree on anything else going forward, they just hope the justices of the peace will reach each letter and make an informed decision that’s best for the entire community.
“I hope they take time to think about the voices in our community and what they’re saying and make the best judgement on what they should do,” Joanna Benson said.
Whatever is right is right. If they have to move it then they can come up with the costs to move the thing,” Hale said.
The next quorum court meeting will be July 16 at 10 a.m.