About two dozen people gathered in front of the Williamson County courthouse June 18 to protest the Confederate statue that stands in front of the building. To counter, about 10 members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans stood in favor of the statue remaining in its place.

Michael Patino, an organizer of the protest to remove the monument, held a sign that read: “Heritage of Losers.” Patino said the event was held on the 18th of the month because it was the eve of Juneteenth, the day that commemorates June 19, 1865, when it was announced in Galveston that all previously enslaved Texans had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation.

Patino added that he intends to organize events each Thursday moving forward to happen in the evening time.

“A lot of people think it's history, but it's propaganda,” Patino said of the statue.

Patino said as a resident of Williamson County he did not believe the statue belonged in front of the county’s symbol of justice—the courthouse—but instead would be more appropriately placed at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Georgetown where over 100 Confederate soldiers are buried. He added that even as a white man, the statue offended him.

Protest attendee Lou Snead said he has been working to organize the removal of the statue through Courageous Conversations Georgetown for several years.

"We don't believe this symbol of racism and white supremacy should stay in a place of honor in front of the center of justice courthouse," Snead said.

Snead said he believed it was time to take all of the Confederate monuments down.

Lina Terrell also spoke during the protest on the resignation of Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody, who has been under fire for the death of Javier Ambler in 2019—a black man who was killed in sheriff's office custody after failing to dim his lights to oncoming traffic. As of June 18, Commissioners Terry Cook, Cynthia Long and Russ Boles explicitly called for his resignation.

“I feel like I have a responsibility to speak up about this symbol of ongoing injustice in this county,” Terrell said. “We care about people who don’t look like us as much as we care about people who do look like us.”

Those in favor of the removal of the statue also knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd, who died in Minnesota after a police officer knelt on his neck for that time and sparked a national movement against systemic racism. The protest remained peaceful and nonviolent.

The arguments on removing the monument have been going on for years. It was last seen on the Commissioners Court agendas in 2017; however, members of the public have spoken during the public comment portion of court meetings on the topic several times since then to no success.

The opposing side, led by Shelby Little, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, previously told Community Impact Newspaper he was not in favor of removal or even relocation of the statue. He, as well as other members of the SCV, stood among the protestors at the monument June 18.

“It's extremely frustrating for us who base our beliefs and principles and actions on the truth as opposed to everything [the protestors] have is emotions and feelings with no factual backup,” Little said.

Little said he believes the truth is that the Civil War was a fight for independence where slavery was a factor but not the single factor.

He added that he has previously and continues to suggest a second monument be built on another side of the courthouse of a person more agreeable to the protestors but not remove the current confederate monument.

Because the statue is on Williamson County property, it is up to the Commissioners Court to make the decision to remove the statue through a vote on an agenda item. But for an item to be placed on the agenda, it has to be sponsored by one of the five court members.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell told Community Impact Newspaper that he has no intention of placing the item on the agenda.

“We are living in really volatile times and need to be careful with every action and reaction [taken] during these times,” Gravell said.