Nearly a month after the state Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Board of Trustees approved the relocation, the Confederate monument was moved from the Circle to the Confederate cemetery behind the Tad Smith Coliseum.
The disassembly of the monument began early Tuesday morning without announcement to the public. Two fences surround the construction site at the Circle, one of which is covered in green tarp preventing onlookers from seeing inside the construction zone. A similar fence surrounds the space in which construction workers are reassembling the monument in front of the cemetery.
Greg Mitchell, a university alumnus who graduated in 1974, watched as the concrete pieces were brought to their new location. As a student, he said he remembers other fans waving Confederate flags at football games. To him, the relocation was long awaited.
“I have chill bumps,” he said. “I’ve picked up a lot of new acquaintances, and I feel like they’re friends. (They’re) protesters and most of them (are) younger, and I’m inspired by their passion and interest in getting this done.”
Over the past weeks, Mitchell has also been among the protesters supporting the Take It Down Oxford movement, which advocates for the relocation of the Confederate monument in front of the Lafayette County Courthouse.
The Associated Student Body (ASB) Senate passed the initial resolution for the campus monument’s relocation in 2018, and it was approved by various other governing bodies on campus shortly after. According to plans sent to the Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) in June 2020, the entire process to relocate the monument is 90 days.
Controversy surrounds the details of the monument relocation after these plans were revealed to the public, which includes creating new headstones for the unknown number of Union and Confederate soldiers buried at the cemetery. ASB President Joshua Mannery tweeted about the relocation and said he is glad this step has finally been taken.
“I’m happy about the statue finally being moved, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that we still don’t know if headstones will inappropriately be built in the cemetery, or if Don Barrett is still being allowed to have a voice in this process,” Mannery said.