“This world’s collective condemnation of police violence against the black community following the George Floyd murder represents a turning point much like the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968,” was the opening of a letter Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons submitted to the Washington County Board of Supervisors.
In the letter submitted Thursday, Mayor Simmons is requesting the removal of the Confederate statue on the grounds of the Washington County Courthouse.
The letter states the purpose of the marches of the 1950s and 1960s were to end practices contrary to civil rights such as racial discrimination and disenfranchisement in America.
In the letter, Simmons states, “The marches of today are to eliminate police brutality against African Americans, racial profiling, and racism within the criminal justice system.”
In January 2016, the BOS voted 3-2 in favor of removing the state flag, which features a Confederate emblem, from Washington County properties.
More than four years later, the BOS is faced with a somewhat similar decision in the removal of the Confederate statue erected by the Private Taylor Rucks Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
“As you know, racism in America is real,” Simmons states in his letter. “We have to face it and address it head on. It exists in Washington County. It exists in the Mississippi Delta ... I firmly believe that it continues to exist because of people, systems and symbols.”
Inscribed on the Confederate monument are quotes from Jefferson Davis, Randolph H. M. Kim, Charles B. Galloway and Confederate Army commander Robert E. Lee, with one from Davis reading, “For those who encountered the perils of war in defense of the sacred cause of states rights and constitutional government.”
Simmons said of the monument, “It is offensive to the history of the city and county, which holds in its heart the stories of white Americans, black Americans, Irish Americans, Scottish Americans, Russian Americans, Jewish immigrants, Lebanese and Syrian immigrants, Italians, Asian Americans and a melting pot of other diverse groups of people who came to this great city and great county.
“City and county residents do not want an oppressive symbol of division, but want unity in the community, realizing we are one. The time is now for all of us, including our local leaders, to collectively stand in solidarity and unity to rid America of any and all symbols, cyphers and signs that offend and oppress members of our community.”
Board president Carl McGee said, “I have every confidence that the board will make the appropriate decision that’s in the best interest of all citizens across Washington County when it comes to the statue.”