Impromptu Independence Day Protest Requests Removal Of Calloway County Confederate Monument
The debate over whether to remove a Confederate monument on the grounds of the Calloway County Courthouse continued on Independence Day with an impromptu protest in favor of relocating the statue.
Murray resident Kristen Farley organized the demonstration by posting in local Facebook groups hours before the event’s intended start time. She said she planned the event as a way to celebrate America’s independence while continuing to push for racial justice.
“I really just wanted to do something to celebrate the Fourth of July in a very American way by expressing our First Amendment rights,” Farley said. “It was very small and it was very impromptu but it was still good.”
The demonstrators urged the Calloway County Fiscal Court to take action to remove the statue, which depicts Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Judge/Executive Kenny Imes said last month he “remains committed” to resolving the statue issue, but did not set a timeline for any potential action. Farley said she believes county leaders are stalling on the issue.
“I think there’s a lot of red tape around it,” she said. “I think if they wanted it to be removed we would be a lot farther along than we actually are.”
Farley said many passersby offered signs of encouragement during the protest Saturday, but negative comments were noticed as well.
“There were lots of people who pretended they didn’t see us. They would peek really quickly...and they would turn away and give us a scowl. We had one car that circled around the block a couple of times. And the last time they circled around the block they rolled down their window and yelled for us to leave the country if we didn’t like it here, that our hearts weren’t American,” Farley said.
The signs of opposition weren’t discouraging to those demonstrating, Farley said. She said she hopes to continue her involvement with the protests until the monument is moved from the courthouse grounds. She said despite her leadership role in the Independence Day protest, she hopes to use her voice to amplify Black citizens of Calloway County in planning future demonstrations.
“I want the fiscal court, the city council and local people to know that this is on everyone’s mind. This is not going away; this is going to be a very prevalent topic until something is done about it,” Farley said.
Recent dialogue on the statue largely began after Assistant Murray State University Football Coach Sherman Neal penned a letter encouraging local leaders to remove the monument. Governor Andy Beshear later called on Calloway County to relocate the installation as well. The memorial was funded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and placed on the courthouse grounds in 1917.