Confederate Monument Removal Advocates In Newspaper Ad Call For Public Meeting With UDC
Advocates calling for removal of a Confederate monument on Calloway County Courthouse grounds published a newspaper advertisement Friday, calling for a public meeting with members of the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to discuss the monument’s location.
The ad in the Murray Ledger and Times states the proposed meeting on October 3 at 9 a.m. Central Time (CT) next to the county courthouse would discuss the “appropriateness” of the monument’s location and how the national UDC’s stated objectives -- which include History, Education, and Memorial -- align with the monument’s location.
Murray State University Football Coach Sherman Neal, speaking for the “coalition” in the ad, said advocates have unsuccessfully tried to reach out to the chapter in recent months to start a dialogue about the monument. He said the newspaper ad is another attempt to invite UDC members and other community members into the discussion.
“I think it’s important that myself, other members of the community on what they call both sides of this issue have a seat at that table,” Neal said. “It seemed like a good idea to ensure that there’s one final genuine attempt at trying to get them to the table.”
The county fiscal court passed a resolution in July stating the county had no reason to dispute the chapter’s ownership of the monument. Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes has stated he wants removal advocates and the chapter to come to an agreement on what should happen to the monument.
Neal said removal advocates most likely would demand for the monument’s immediate removal at the next fiscal court hearing if the UDC doesn’t accept the invitation. He said removal advocates would perceive their absence as a signal the local chapter doesn’t see the monument as important. He said he hopes a conversation between the chapter and advocates provides a better understanding of the “people’s will” on what should happen to the monument.
“To legally and accurately gauge what that will is could be drilled down to simple discussions between parties that should have an interest in this, either due to public safety, preservation, what they believe in, or advocating for the change they want to see,” Neal said.
Neal declined to name those who funded the ad. But he said it was funded in part by individuals who’ve created yard signs and buttons calling for the monument’s removal.
The Murray Ledger and Times reported during the Sept. 16 fiscal court meeting, County Attorney Bryan Ernstberger said he didn’t believe the court’s July resolution was delegating responsibility for the monument to the UDC chapter, something advocates previously alleged. He also said the fiscal court has the authority to move the monument if it chose to do so.
During an interview Friday with WKMS, Ernstberger re-emphasized the July resolution conveyed that the court has the authority to move the monument, but the court wouldn’t consider relocation of the monument until either the owners of the monument — which the court believes to be the Murray UDC Chapter — or the people of Calloway County call for its removal.
“The fiscal court determined that the monument would stay for so long as both UDC and the people of Calloway County wanted it to remain so,” Ernstberger said. “Perhaps if [advocates] aren’t getting anywhere with the UDC, they would want to work on the people of Calloway County.”
Ernstberger clarified that his commentary on the resolution was his interpretation of what the fiscal court stated, and that as county attorney he offers legal advice to the fiscal court but does not create policy.
A member of the J.N. Williams Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.