CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The Stonewall Jackson statue in the lawn of the Harrison County courthouse will remain after motion to move it died on the floor due to no second. Commissioner David Hinkle made the motion during another meeting to debate the statue in June and made a similar motion again during the Wednesday meeting.
The meeting was marred by inappropriate interruptions while Jim Griffin, chair of the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival, was addressing commissioners. The interruptions were made by unknown people calling into the Zoom meeting.
For the third time in as many months this summer, residents called in and came to the courthouse to share their views on the statue that was gifted to the county in 1952 by the Daughters of the Confederacy. When the statue was erected the nation was going through the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case that established racial segregation in public schools.
On June 17 commissioners voted 2 – 1 to leave the statue on a motion by commissioner David Hinkle to relocate the statue. During a July 1 meeting no motions were made, but commissioners heard from Jim Griffin, chairman of the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival and board member Angelica Scott.
“I am really appalled that we are repeatedly coming back for votes, votes, votes,”resident Anna Grimes said during the public comment portion of the meeting,”I think we have a lot of other issues in this county that take precedent over re-voting every time someone comes before you.”
Griffin has explained to commissioners the statue sends a message of injustice to minorities entering the courthouse for official business.
“I truly think these statues were placed to send a message to race of people, we’re watching you and we’re still here,”Griffin said,”I think that’s the way African Americans see that statue.”
During Wednesday’s meeting people were largely in support of keeping the statue and had concerns about why the issue is continually brought before the commission.
“I don’t know why something continues to be voted on, I don’t know how that system works, but it sounds fishy to me,”Resident Scott Swagger said,”I’m kind of appalled that there was one days notice for the meeting and we have Harrison County citizens lined up around the hallways like cattle.”
Many that spoke publicly reflected on the national trend of removing monuments and statues and cautioned commissioners that removing one, could lead to removing any and all historical figures because certain people are offended.
“You want to condemn something that happened over 150 years ago? Nobody alive has done anything to anybody when it comes to slavery,”resident Ed Way said,”You’re no better than Hitler if you want to take our history away from us.”
Another resident Jim Tallerico, echoed calls from commissioners Trescost, Watson and members of the crowd to put the issue on the ballot and let the people decide.
“Put on a ballot and let the people vote, let the people decide what they want to do,”Jim Tallerico said,”And if you don’t want to drive by that statue, or walk by it-nobody is making anybody do that.”
A request for comment from commissioner Ron Watson has not been answered as of press time.