Debate continues over Confederate monument in Knoxville

Sons of Confederate Veterans helps clean vandalized monuments in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Lines have been drawn in Knoxville as a result of the violence over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. This week, someone splashed paint on a Confederate statue in the Fort Sanders neighborhood. Since then, others have come out to try to clean it up.

“It’s very disturbing,” said Rod O’Barr, a member of Sons of Confederate Veterans in Knoxville.

O’Barr and others in the group volunteered their time on Friday to help out. The monument was erected in 1914 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to remember the confederate soldiers who died in the Battle of Fort Sanders.

“It’s our charge by the old vets as Sons of Confederate Veterans to defend their honor,” O’Barr said.

He honored those veterans because O’Barr is adamant in his beliefs about the Civil War.

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“I wouldn’t be out here scrubbing this monument if I felt the gentlemen that this monument represented were fighting for slavery,” he said.

Others felt differently. There is a petition asking Mayor Rogero to take it down immediately. There is also a counter-petition. O’Barr said he signed it.

“There is a subversive element in our country that is trying to tear it down and destroy the fabric of Americ,” he said.

It was difficult for him to see other cities, like Baltimore, take down confederate monuments after the violence in Charlottesville.

“Politicians and professors that spew this hate-driven ideologies have divided southerners and divided people across the country,” O’Barr said.

He believed people are against these monuments because of a false narrative on the Civil War. He wanted politicians to review history before making a decision about the memorial.

“Try to find out what the truth is and let’s dispel all of this false narrative leading to this kind of hate,” he said.

Opinions in African-American community on Confederate statues differ

Two members of the African American community had very different opinions about what cities should do with Confederate monuments.

“For me, it is a continuation of the attacks upon our southern heritage, our ancestors, the Confederate army, the flag,” said HK Edgerton.

Edgerton was strongly against the removal of these monuments. He has traveled across the country, even walking more than 1,000 miles with a Confederate flag in 2002, to spread that message.

“Those monuments weren’t just for the white soldier, its for the red, yellow, black, white,” he said.

However, former NAACP member Dewey Roberts believed the Confederate flag and statues are offensive.

“It represents racism, hatred, bigotry,” said Roberts.

Roberts did not think these monuments should be in public. He said they represent a part of history he wants to forget.

“It’s about the South succeeding from the Union because of slavery and you can’t rewrite history,” he said.

Edgerton said the black and white line is not as defined as most people think during the Civil War.

“All of the friends of the black people, especially General Stonewall Jackson. He opened up his home and church to teach black folks how to read,” Edgerton said.

Roberts said hearing some still support these monuments shows the country has a long way to go.

“The battle is not over and we have a long way to go to make this a country its supposed to be,” said Roberts.

He feels those shouldn’t be in public either. so he supports its removal. Edgerton, on the other hand, disagrees. He says those memorials do not just remember white soldiers but also black soldiers who fought for the Douth during the war.

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