KAUFMAN COUNTY, TEXAS — A protest for the removal of the Confederate monument at the Kaufman County courthouse originally planned for this weekend has been canceled according to event organizers.
Eston Williams, a retired minister and local democratic party volunteer, announced the protest on social media earlier this week.
“Kaufman County Democrats will be marching at the courthouse Saturday morning at 10 to encourage the commissioners to remove the confederate statue.”
After a mixed reaction of comments and angry phone calls, and the threat of oppositional protests, Williams has decided to cancel the rally.
"Sad to say that angry hate-filled people with guns have created an environment where we do not feel it is safe to hold a demonstration on Saturday after all," Williams said in a statement. "The Kaufman police have called in the state troopers and the sheriff’s department because they want to be sure everyone is safe. If they are worried, so are we. We will be petitioning the Kaufman County Commissioners to remove the statue, but no public rally."
According to the East Texas Historical Commission, the monument was erected and dedicated in 1911 in front of the original courthouse that was built in 1887. The artist is unknown.
"The Confederate monument, constructed in 1911, was moved to a safe place during the demolition of the 1887 courthouse and restored to its current location once the 1956 courthouse was completed," a commission paper reads.
According to a 1996 book written by Carol Morris Little, entitled, “A Comprehensive Guide to Outdoor Sculptures in Texas”, the monument was funded by public donations through a campaign drive led by a local resident, Joseph Huffmaster.
“The original gun barrel, frequently defaced and finally lost or stolen, has been replaced with an actual gun barrel,” Little wrote.
The granite base of the memorial is inscribed, “Erected to the memory of the Confederate soldiers by the people of Kaufman County 1861-1865. No soldiers ever fought more bravely on the field or suffered greater privations for their country. Honor to their memory, glory to their cause and peace to their ashes. They went down into battle at the command of their state and fought for their Constitution, homes and firesides."
Removal of the monument would require action of the Kaufman County commissioner’s court, but even then, it would take another 180 days before the monument could be removed. So far, the issue has not made it to the commissioner’s agenda.
According to the Texas Historical Commission, Texas State Law Sec. 442.008 requires that a county notify the THC in writing at least 180 days prior to initiating any work other than basic regular maintenance or in-kind repairs on their courthouse or its square.
“The county commissioners could vote to remove the monument, or make other changes to the courthouse, but they have to notify our agency 180 days in advance before they could begin work,” says THC spokesman Chris Florance.
“Violations of this notification can result in a potential fine of up to $1,000 a day that may be imposed on counties who do not comply with the law,” Florance said.