Local groups protect Confederate statues
Confederate soldier statues that adorn courthouse lawns across the South stand keeping watch for intruders, according to legend.
But on Saturday night, groups of men stood by to keep watch for their well-being in response to rumors that the statues at the Jones County courthouses in Laurel and Ellisville were going to be vandalized or torn down by groups that opposed their presence.
“We heard the rumors … and we became a non-threatening presence,” said a camouflage-clad man who spoke for a the half-dozen or so men who identified themselves only as “We the People.” They sat in pickups across from the courthouse at Laurel in the back parking lot of the tax assessor’s office. Another man who identified himself only as “Mark” sat on the pedestal of the Confederate memorial, beside the mourning widow.
The men said they heard specific threats against the statue in Laurel, and they were particularly concerned because Confederate monuments around the country are being defaced and destroyed.
“I fully support, to my last breath, your right to protest,” the spokesman for the group said. “There are a lot of injustices in the world, and police brutality is one of them … but don’t destroy property as part of your protest. Rioters and looters and the destruction of property is taking a protest too far.”
He went on to say that if people want the monuments removed, they should accomplish that through lawful means. No weapons were visible, but the men said they were prepared to defend the property, if the need arose.
The courthouses are inside the city limits of Laurel and Ellisville, but they are Jones County property and in the jurisdiction of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department. Local law enforcement officials said they were aware of the groups that may be threatening the statues and the groups defending them.
“Laws have to be enforced,” the spokesman for We the People said. “We took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that’s what we’re doing.”