As statues of Confederate soldiers and slave-owning founding fathers fall across the country, a group of about two dozen people continue to protest for the removal of one sitting in front of the Williamson County Courthouse in Georgetown.
The statue, which depicts no one in particular, was installed in 1916 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Its presence has been the source of some contention for the last few years.
Organizers of the protests have said that a statue that glorifies racism and white supremacy has no place in modern-day Williamson County. They recommend instead that it be moved across the street to the Williamson Museum, or better yet, to Odd Fellows Cemetery in Georgetown, a cemetery where more than 100 Confederate soldiers lie.
Protesters have met weekly in front of the statue—now regularly on Tuesdays at 7 p.m.—since early June, spurred in part by the social justice protests that erupted nationwide after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minnesota after a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
One protest organizer, Michael Patino, argued that the presence of the statue is intended to support the idea of the Lost Cause, which posits the loss of the Confederacy as a tragedy.
“The Lost Cause narrative is not history, but is in fact an attempt to rewrite history. That is why the statue was put here,” said Michael Patino, one of the organizers of the events, during a July 14 protest.
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 to approve a petition to the Texas Historical Commission for its removal. But for an item to be placed on the agenda, first it has to be sponsored by one of the five court members.
County Judge Bill Gravell told Community Impact Newspaper that he has no intention of placing the item on the agenda, even as members of the community continue speak on the subject during the public comment portion of Commissioners Court meetings.
In a July 14 meeting, Jason Norwood, an army veteran who also attended the protest, asked, “Should we glorify traitors and losers?”
“If you want to have a monument to commemorate traitors and losers, then we need to have a serious conversation about who and what we hold in high esteem,” he said. “Let’s not forget the fact that by literally elevating a Confederate soldier above us, we are not giving a history lesson. We’re commemorating treachery.”
The weekly protests are also met with counter-protesters, primarily made up of members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The opposing side, led by SCV member Shelby Little, 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, continue to counter-protest at each event.
“It's extremely frustrating for us who base our beliefs and principles and actions on the truth, as opposed to everything [the protesters] have is emotions and feelings with no factual backup,” Little said.
Little said he believes that the Civil War was a fight for independence, in which slavery was a factor but not the single factor.
He added that as long as the protests continue, the SCV will be there, too.
“Their desires to remove the monument has no comparison to our determination to keep it,” he said during a July 14 protest.