Group wants Confederate statue removed from local courthouse grounds

By  | 

BELTON, Texas (KWTX) A group of area residents including the president of the Temple NAACP chapter is calling for the removal of a Confederate statue from the grounds of the Bell County Courthouse in Belton, but officials say the statue differs from others that have been removed from other public places.

(Photo by Tianna Jenkins)

Temple NAACP chapter President Bennie Walsh says the group is asking Bell County commissioners to move the statue to the Bell County Museum or to a nearby Confederate cemetery.

“We want it relocated because of the bad history of the Confederate symbols and soldiers,” Walsh said.

“It was a bad time in a lot of people’s lives,” he said.

“I know it’s history to some people, it’s a tragic history that shouldn’t be spread.”

The group also requested a public forum on the fate of the statue, but said commissioners wanted to find another way to resolve the issue.

While the group believes it should be moved elsewhere, others believe it should stay.

History expert Jane Pitts says she has ancestors that have fought in every war since the 1620s. And removing the statue would be removing the history behind it.

"Removing it disrespects our history and our veterans. Removing the statue is a disgrace to both sides and to our nations genealogy," Pitts said.

"When I look at the statue I feel pride for what they believed in."

Officials say the museum can’t support the weight of the statue, but agreed to consider other options including the addition of a marker providing historical context.

Bell County Judge Jon Burrows, in a statement Wednesday, said the statue, which is dedicated to soldiers from the county who fought in the Civil War,” has a direct relation to Bell County,” unlike other statues that have been removed in other cities in Texas.

The statue, which bears the inscription “To our Confederate heroes,” was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in October 1916 and is similar to the World War II statue on the courthouse grounds, Burrows said.

“Both commemorate fallen soldiers from Bell County with no commentary on the wars in which the soldiers fought,” he said.

“The statue on the grounds of the Historic Bell County Courthouse is simply history,” he said.

Additional discussions could be held on the issue, he said.