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Heated exchanges unfold during weekend protest over Confederate monument in Murray

Conversations on whether to remove Confederate monuments are continuing across the nation.

A 24-hour protest in Murray, to move the Confederate statue on Court Square, began at 6 p.m. Friday and ended at 6 p.m. Saturday, according to a Paducah television station.

It was organized by Sunrise Movement Murray and Murray State College Democrats, WPSD reported. Their goal was to have at least five people holding signs at the monument every hour for 24 hours.

Some people there were not in favor of moving the statue, and they let it be known.

Monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Murray (KyForward File Photo)

Organizer Kristen Farley said things got physical with anti-protesters Friday night.

During an interview with Farley, one man who opposed the protest stood, raising his middle finger.

She said it was nothing compared to an earlier exchange with those in opposition.

“We were trying to stand our ground and defend that, and then he was spraying people in the face with water hoses,” said Farley. “People were having to hold their signs, trying not to get sprayed with it and protect our art, and so we did fill out incident reports on that one, I’m not sure where that’s going right now.”

Local 6 asked Murray Police Sgt. Andrew Wiggins to see if those in opposition wanted to talk with us, but they were not interested.

Wiggins said his men were out there for a while, making sure no person or business was harmed.

“We’ve been here multiple times throughout the day, different amounts of times, multiple times,” said Wiggins. “Sometimes it’s a long amount of time, sometimes it’s briefly just to ensure that everything’s safe.”

Protesters either stayed in front of the statue or underneath a tent, where cold water bottles, snacks, and other items were accessible for them.

For the most part, those in opposition stayed in the lawn area near the statue. They brought out one large American flag and one large Confederate flag. They walked up to protesters at times, either to ask questions or make comments that included racial slurs like the “N-word.”

There were heated exchanges between the two groups, but it was not until Murray State College Student Garrett Whited walked up with an unloaded shotgun that tensions rose.

Protester Linda Arakelyan asked him what he was trying to prove. “My right to carry,” said Whited.

The conversation between Whited and Araleylan continued regarding why he had his gun, later resulting in the creation of a sign explaining his support for the Second Amendment.

While they talked, he stressed his Second Amendment rights, and revealed to those in opposition that he was not against moving the statue.

“I’m sorry, if you ask me, if it’s going to stop cities and people dying, and cities from being burned down and destroyed, move it,” said Whited. “I mean, there’s a whole other place for it. This is a war memorial.”

As the protest continued, organizers said the conversation will not stop here.

“This is not going to be a short battle. We understand that, but this is a battle of attrition. But we’re going to be here ’til they move it,” said Farley.

Mignon Reed was one of several protesters out with signs. She said the statue does not belong in a place was referred to as ” the friendliest small town in America.”

The Calloway County Board of Commissioners voted in July to leave the statue where it stands.

Murray police were present during the protest for everyone’s safety.

They are still investigating the water hosing incident.

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One Comment

  1. constance a alexander says:

    The longer the lag on the part of the County Judge Executive and his minions on the matter of the relocation of the Robert E. Lee statue, the closer we get to violence in our community. How much evidence is needed to demonstrate why the memorial belongs elsewhere? Just today, the local paper published a paid ad from faith leaders suggesting the monument be moved to a more appropriate area.

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