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"Opposing sides face off at Hamilton County Courthouse" -- Chattanooga TN
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 35° 02.941 W 085° 18.457
16S E 654348 N 3879788
Quick Description: The statue of Tennessee native and Confederate Army Lieutenant General A. P. Stewart in front of the Hamilton Co. Courthouse in downtown Chattanooga is a magnet for controversy in 2017
Location: Tennessee, United States
Date Posted: 10/7/2017 4:59:34 PM
Waymark Code: WMWRJG
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member DnRseekers
Views: 0

Long Description:
This bronze bust of Tennessee native and Confederate Army Lieutenant General A. P. Stewart, erected in 1919 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, still stands in front of the Hamilton Co. Courthouse in downtown Chattanooga, but for how long?

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press: (visit link)

Opposing sides face off at Hamilton County Courthouse over Confederate statue dispute
October 2nd, 2017
by Rosana Hughes

"Take it down, in Chatt Town," marchers yelled Sunday evening as they called for the removal of Confederate Gen. Alexander P. Stewart's bust from the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn.

The march came after the NAACP said it would begin efforts to remove the Confederate statue in July.

Chapter President Elenora Woods said the statue needs to be in a "more appropriate" place such as the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park or a museum.

The announcement sparked vigorous pushback from some community members who defended Stewart as a postwar peacemaker who helped plan and create the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

Moments before the march set off from Miller Plaza, word came of counterprotesters waiting at the courthouse. Woods told the crowd police would be present to ensure everyone's safety.

"Because it is government property, they have a right to be there," she said.

Marchers made their way along Market Street, singing "We Shall Overcome" and chanting slogans such as "Jim Crow has got to go." Peace signs adorned many posters, and others had slogans such as "Courthouses R neutral zones" and "White silence = violence."

Renee Hall, who is white, was one of the marchers. She said she wanted to show support for African-Americans and other people of color, because "if it's a symbol of racism to them, it needs to go."

"If folks want to get on their high horse about it being historical, no one is saying to destroy it," she said. "We're just saying to move it to a more appropriate place."

The Daughters of the Confederacy erected the memorial in 1919. The monument rests on a concrete pedestal that reads "C.S.A 1861-1865."

On the courthouse's front lawn the marchers gathered on the left side of the Stewart bust and a small group of counterprotesters lined up on the right.

Robert Lee Williamson carried a large Confederate flag and stood silently in opposition. Others held United States flags, while one woman held a Trump campaign sign and a man wore a Make America Great Again hat.

Williamson said the marchers were a "large group of misguided people."

"At more than one time in his life, [Stewart] spoke against slavery," he said. "He also was not a secessionist. He fought for the Confederacy, yes, for the state of Tennessee, which is a very honorable thing to do."

He said he doesn't like the "narrative that is being pushed," and he doesn't like "people lying about [his] heroes."

"It angers me," he said. "They can't say one thing bad about this man. Other than he fought for the Confederacy, so I guess that means everybody that fought for the Confederacy are bad people. I disagree with that opinion."

Williamson said he's been attacked several times for flying the Confederate flag.

"I had urine thrown on me, bricks thrown at me — one grazed my head, it didn't make contact," he said. "It's always the same people doing it too," referencing groups such as Antifa, or anti-fascists, who had a couple of representatives at the march.

Both sides doffed hats and bowed heads for prayers by several religious leaders, and some marchers went to speak to those on the opposite sidewalk.

Marcher Breon Thomas, a Navy veteran, said he wanted to understand where they were coming from, and he knew he had common ground with one of the counterdemonstrators because they were both veterans.

"I think most people have more alike than they have different," he said. "If you continue the conversation, hopefully you come to a place of resolution."

He said he thinks that is how to accomplish great things in life.

"Find somebody who disagrees with you and understand where they come from, because you could be missing something, you know?" he said. "And they could, too."

Afterward Thomas said his perception of Stewart may have changed a bit but he still doesn't like the idea statues honoring the Confederacy in front of a place of justice. He noted most people agree on preserving history even if they disagree on the method.

County Commissioner Greg Beck introduced a resolution last week aimed at seeking the state's permission to remove the bust from the courthouse grounds.

At that meeting, Commissioner Tim Boyd said if the Confederate statue is removed, no other statue or memorial should take its place.

On Sunday, Woods agreed, saying the Chattanooga NAACP's position is that no monument to any person should be on the courthouse lawn.

"It should be neutral ground," she said.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana."

The statue is also the subject of an opinion piece by the newspaper's resident columnist, Jay Greeson: (visit link)

"Greeson: Old battle lines around Confederate Gen. A.P Stewart rigid as ever
October 5th, 2017
by Jay Greeson

Wednesday around lunch, a couple of hours after the Hamilton County Commission voted down removing the statue of Confederate Gen. A.P Stewart from the courthouse lawn, I spent an hour looking at the monument.

I wondered what A.P would have said about the people speaking passionately — including one of his descendants — to the commission about what Civil War relics mean to them.

Words like racism. Hatred. Slavery. Traitor.

I wonder what A.P. would remember about his more than a century sitting on the lawn. He watched recently as a gas station became a trendy lunch spot and downtown offices became swanky salons.

He was there in the early 1980s when they named Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Hoffa trial. The riots in the early 1970s. The transition from smoke-laden afterthought to a modern-day downtown revitalization story.

I wonder if, given a brief moment of life, would he shoo the stupid pigeons. Or would he shake his head at the transportation transformation from horses and buggies to cars running on electricity to the occasional weekend reappearance of the horse and buggy. Maybe he would offer a stern warning for those dang young kids to stay off his grass.

A.P.'s ride has been improbable. As one of two statues on courthouse grounds — the other being Cherokee Chief John Ross — he probably would be quick to remind those protesting his presence that of the two, he was the one who did not own slaves.

A.P.'s creation was the work of a group that was certainly the target of unfairness and discrimination in their time. He was dedicated by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1916, four years before women got the right to vote.

And to be fair, I would like to ask him how many people knew who he was or what he accomplished before the hubbub about removing him began.

My guess is not many. I know I was not aware of his place, and his recent priority for members of the NAACP.

"Right now this is a local issue and can be handled by a local vote," local NAACP executive board member and longtime Chattanooga public servant Yusuf Hakeem told county commissioners with almost a dozen supporters standing behind him.

Afterward, Hakeem made it clear that Wednesday's vote for Stewart staying will not be the last word on the matter and that he could see the national NAACP taking an interest in the issue.

"It's a process. Our next step is the local state legislators," he said. "We are going to build a case."

The case is pretty simple.

"How much history do you want to remember?" Commissioner Greg Beck asked his fellow commissioners who were about to vote, "because we don't want to remember slavery, and we don't want to remember the hatred."

The talking points of history against hatred may simplify this issue, whether A.P. knew it then or not.

Winners write the history, but the narratives, good and bad, are worth remembering, too.

It's also important to know that these dividing lines — be they racial or economical or political — are no longer starting points as much as they are cliffs.

There is no meeting in the middle when discussion and, most importantly, listening become diatribes and lectures.

A.P. has been there 100 years with C.S.A under his name on the six-ton marble base, and Beck and several hundreds of others have worked in the courthouse for years, before Wednesday's official vote.

Why the outrage now seems like a fair question.

Want another? Why not move A.P. to the entrance of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, which he helped establish and served for 25 years? It makes perfect sense, too much sense really.

This seems like all-too-many of today's social fights in which the hard-and-fast lines now are so pronounced that doing something for the other side, even if it makes the most sense, looks like a loss.

And that's a shame.

I asked a friend of mine what they thought of this, and their response was pretty sharp.

"Seems like the county commission would have better and more important things to do," was the answer.

We're pretty sure even ol' A.P. Stewart would agree with that, especially if they could do something about those stupid pigeons.

Contact Jay Greeson at and 423-757-6343.
Type of publication: Newspaper

When was the article reported?: 10/2/2017

Publication: Chattanooga Times Free Press

Article Url: [Web Link]

Is Registration Required?: no

How widespread was the article reported?: regional

News Category: Arts/Culture

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