Vote split on whether to remove Confederate statue from outside Harrison Co. Courthouse
The monument will stay in its current location for now until a tiebreaker vote can be cast.
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The statue of a Confederate soldier will stay outside the Harrison County Courthouse for now after a split vote by the board of supervisors Monday morning.
The vote - split 2-2 - left supervisors in a deadlock, which means the statue will stay in its current location for the time being.
Before the vote, discussions were made as to whether or not the statue should remain in place or be moved to a new location.
District One Supervisor Beverly Martin and District Four Supervisor Kent Jones both voted to remove the statue from its current location.
Acknowledging the monument as being a historical statue, Martin said one of her family members fought in the Confederate Army. However, she still did not agree that the monument should remain on the steps of the courthouse. Jones agreed, emphasizing that the statue does not represent all the people of South Mississippi.
District Two Supervisor Rebecca Powers and District Three Supervisor Marlin Ladner each voted to keep the statue at the courthouse.
The tie-breaking vote was not made after Board of Supervisors President Connie Rocko failed to show to the meeting. According to the county’s public information officer, Rocko and her husband are home sick with a non-COVID related illness.
The supervisors did allow two members of the public to address the board, one for the removal of the monument and one in favor of keeping it in its current location.
The board has been discussing the removal of the monument since June, which is also when legislators voted to remove the Confederate battle flag emblem from Mississippi’s state flag. Since then, the monument at the Gulfport courthouse has been the site of multiple protests.
The Confederate monument has stood outside the courthouse for more than a century. The monument, which stands in front of the Harrison County Courthouse, was put up in 1911. The statue stands 25-feet tall and is made of bronze and granite. Atop the monument is a Confederate soldier standing at parade rest and, in the middle, is a the Beauregard battle flag.
Inscribed on the front of the statue is the quote, “In memory of our confederate dead.” At the base of the monument right below that quote are the words “Lest we forget.” The dates 1861-1865 inscribed on the monument represent when the Civil War was fought.
On the north side of the marker is a message that lets people know the monument was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Board of Supervisors of Harrison County. The Daughters reportedly paid $1,500 and the supervisors chipped in an additional $1,000 for its construction.
We will have more on this decision coming up later today on WLOX.
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