An Alabama courthouse has been the site of months of protests regarding the Confederate monument and flag that are displayed outside. The protesters have intensified their efforts by placing prop body bags outside the courthouse.
According to CNN, the bags were placed outside the Marshall County Courthouse in Albertville by 24-year-old organizer Unique Morgan Dunston and two other protesters as a way to emphasize what the Confederacy was truly fighting for. Specifically, the bags, as well as 150 wooden dowels, are meant to represent the slaves owned by former U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall, the man who gave Marshall County its name.
“I want to emphasize how gruesome and real the institution of slavery was, and how the Confederacy fought to uphold that institution,” Dunston told CNN.
Dunston acknowledges that individuals are allowed to wave whatever flag they want under the First Amendment; it’s the fact that the symbols are flying outside a courthouse that disturbs her. “You have the right to fly the flag at home, on your truck, but it doesn’t make sense for these symbols to be at our public courthouses where everybody has to go,” Dunston told CNN. “It’s supposed to be a place for justice for all, to have to walk by that courthouse and see those traumatizing symbols of White supremacy, it’s not fair.”
Since this is America in the godforsaken year of 2020, there have obviously been counter-protesters. Nancy Horton, 64, counts herself among those protesting the protesters. “I went to school in Guntersville and had many Black friends, I don’t have a racist bone in my body but I do have a problem with people trying to change my community because they think a piece of stone is a symbol of racism,” Horton told CNN. “The South is what it is, and removing a statue or a flag is not going to change what happened so many years ago.”
Ol’ girl really said “I don’t have a racist bone in my body,” before going, “That said, I’m not going to have a group of Black people tell me what’s racist.” The whites really stay at it, goddamn.
The strangest thing about the “Southern heritage” argument that gets wheeled out whenever we talk about Confederate monuments is that it really doesn’t hold much weight when you look around the globe. There aren’t too many statues of Hitler up beyond historical preservation in museums, and quite honestly, I don’t think folks would have beef if these Confederate statues were relegated to Civil War museums. That would actually be using them as a way to inform people about the history of this country.
Putting them up in public spaces with loving tributes–like the Marshall monument which reads “in memory of the brave Confederate soldiers of Marshall County,”–isn’t remembering history. That’s celebrating and valorizing a group of people who betrayed their country for a morally unjust war. They can say symbols don’t matter all they want, but when that Saddam statue fell back in ‘03, I remember white folks basically acting like Drake after the 2019 Finals.
Officials in Marshall County haven’t responded to the protesters’ complaints, nor made any attempt to at least discuss the monuments. County commissioners did, however, pass a resolution on Dec. 9 altering the guidelines surrounding protests at the courthouse. The changes include protesters now needing permits to protest at the court and preventing them from chanting within 21 feet of county property.
Regarding the changes, Chairman James Hutcheson told WAFF, “It was getting to the point where I was getting scared that there would be some issues, people getting arrested and it was causing interruptions inside the Marshall County Courthouse.” While there was no discussion about moving the monuments, Hutcheson previously indicated that the commission was looking into putting up a fence around the monument to protect it from damage.
So it’s quite clear the commission isn’t taking the issue seriously, but Dunston remains undeterred, telling CNN she intends to continue fighting until the monument comes down.
“No matter how hard or hopeless these times feel as an activist, we will win because the power belongs to the people and we are stronger together.”