Advocates Calling For Removal Of Calloway Co. Courthouse Confederate Monument Plan 24-Hour Protest
Advocates calling for the removal of a Confederate monument on Calloway County courthouse grounds are staging a 24-hour protest at the monument. Two Murray State University student organizations are among those hosting the event.
The protest is planned to begin at 6 p.m. Friday with protesters at the monument for one-hour shifts through the night until Saturday afternoon. This extended protest is happening about a month after the Calloway Fiscal Court unanimously approved a resolution stating the monument would stay on county courthouse grounds, sparking protests and counter protests for four straight Saturdays at the monument during Murray’s farmers markets.
Ashlen Grubbs, 20, is a Murray State junior and hub coordinator for the Sunrise Movement in Murray, a student organization that’s part of a larger national organization advocating for action on climate change. Grubbs helped organize the 24-hour protest along with the Murray State College Democrats.
“Perhaps the Fiscal Court will realize they cannot just brush this issue under the rug. Just because we are a small town, doesn’t mean that we can’t do the noble thing,” said Grubbs. “So, a 24-hour protest is going to require cops to be paid overtime to sit and watch it. So, it’s mostly about getting a point across.”
Grubbs said her point is that taxpayer funds are being used to protect what the county fiscal court believes to be private property. The fiscal court in its July resolution stated the court had no reason to dispute the ownership claim of the monument by a local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
An open records request response provided to WKMS by the county attorney on July 30 stated the Calloway County Sheriff’s Office had spent $10,393.91 on overtime expenditures to protect the public during protests and counter-protests involving the Confederate monument on county courthouse grounds from June 1, 2020, to July 21, 2020.
“I think that it has to go. I think that it has to be the first step towards us achieving more equality for all the people of Murray and Calloway County,” said Murray resident Robyn Pizzo, who plans to take a shift with her family, including her daughter, at the start of the protest. “I want this place where she’s growing up to be a better place for everyone.”
Pizzo also led an effort to create hundreds of yard signs with the phrase “move the monument” adorned on the front, distributing them throughout Murray and the county. She said even though this 24-hour protest is associated with liberal organizations, she doesn’t believe it’s a partisan issue. She referenced a piece written by conservative columnist Winfield Rose in the Murray Ledger newspaper calling for the monument’s removal, and also mentioned a statement issued by Murray faith leaders requesting the monument’s removal and relocation.
“So much of community life in Murray is based around church life and where people go to church, so to see the leaders of the churches step up like that and call for a moral decision from the people who are maintaining the statue at the court square shows it can cross party lines, it can cross religious lines, and is something that is important to our community as a whole,” Pizzo said.
Pizzo said she’s also worried about the safety of protesters as the protest reaches into the early morning hours. Murray Police Department Sgt. Andrew Wiggins said his department is aware of the protest, and the goal of his department is keeping protesters and businesses safe.