GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — A new group is reviving the effort to take down a Confederate statue in front of the old Williamson County courthouse in Georgetown.
People calling themselves the Wilco Patriots announced they will gather Saturday at noon by the statue to start collecting signatures on a petition to present to county leaders.
The petition states:
“We believe that the Confederate memorial at the historic Williamson County Courthouse represents for many of our citizens an ugly reminder of the institution of slavery, the injustices of Jim Crow laws and racial segregation, and the affirmation of white supremacy that the Confederate cause represented.”
The document further states that it would like the county to move the memorial somewhere else.
“Believing that our County Courthouse and town square should reflect the current laws and social principles of our nation,” the petition states, “we are requesting that Williamson County relocate this Confederate monument to a more appropriate place for mourning those who fell in the great tragedy of the Civil War.”
The monument in question has been located in downtown Georgetown since 1916. Below the stone soldier that sits atop it, an inscription reads that it’s “in memory of the Confederate soldiers & sailors.”
Previous removal efforts have been unsuccessful during the past few years. That’s why Shelby Little with the local Sons of Confederate Veterans group said he’s not too worried right now.
“Each time they have attempted this, they have been very badly rebuffed by our elected officials as well as the citizens of Williamson County,” Little said.
For the rest of the month, Little plans to stand by the statue wearing a full Confederate uniform to mark what he said is Confederate heritage and history month in Texas.
Brenda Wolfe approached him Friday after she told KXAN that it hurt her heart to see him standing there with a Confederate flag set up next to him.
“I just wanted to tell the gentleman that I felt like out of all the amazing causes he could be standing up for,” Wolfe said. “That I felt he was standing up for the wrong cause, and I was sorry about that.”
She said she supports the latest petition pushing for the monument’s removal.
“Even though we should remember [the history], we shouldn’t honor it,” Wolfe said. “I feel like it’s time to let that part of our history rest so that people can heal wounds that they’ve been nursing for a long time.”
In October 2016, city and county leaders unveiled a statue perhaps meant to counter the Confederate monument. This one honored Dan Moody, whose prosecutorial legacy includes prosecution of Ku Klux Klan members in the 1920s.
Then, in 2017, the Williamson County Commissioners’ Court voted down a proposal pushed by another group, which wanted to place a plaque by the Confederate monument with historical context about slavery and the Civil War. At that time, commissioners suggested that another monument to civil rights may be placed by the courthouse, but no plans have ever materialized.
On Friday Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell sent KXAN a statement that did not specify his position on the Confederate monument.
“The statue on the courthouse grounds is a part of our history, and it is good to remember our history. This statue is a reminder of what happens when our great nation turns in upon itself. There were more lives lost in our internal conflict than in World War I, World War II and the Korean War combined. In our great nation, we are guaranteed the right to free speech by the Constitution. So, we as individuals are allowed to voice our differences of opinions, including whether or not we should have these statues on public grounds. But because we remember our history, we will find more peaceful ways to resolve our differences or simply agree to disagree. That is what makes our country great.”
Some state lawmakers filed bills to make it harder to remove Confederate statues and other monuments. None of them have advanced to a vote yet.
A bill from Fredericksburg Republican Kyle Biedermann would require voter approval to remove monuments in cities or counties. Removing monuments on state property would require a vote of the legislature or approval by the Texas Historical Commission or State Preservation Board.