Oxford residents and Ole Miss students gathered on the Square and on campus this afternoon not to join the protests but to watch them. While most spectators had opinions about the protesters, many said they were apathetic about the overall impact the protests may have on the community.
Junior law studies major Bailey Easley sat in her parked car facing the Lafayette County Courthouse as protesters from Confederate 901 and the Hiwaymen gathered around the Square’s Confederate monument.
“I saw on Facebook where there were people in KKK costumes and stuff,” Easley said. “I just wanted to see if that was really what this was or if that was just a false representation. It was because there’s nobody out here dressed like that.”
Oxford local Joe Walker brought his two daughters with him to the Square to watch the event.
“There was a lot of hype, but I think there’s not going to be much to it,” Walker said.
Junior computer science major Ashby Woolf also stood with a group of friends near the courthouse, watching the protesters organize.
“I heard that this group of people coming out here, and I was interested, you know, to come and kind of see what was going on,” Woolf said. “I just came on a whim. (It’s) pretty funny, I guess, but terrible, too.”
Onlookers included people who sympathized with each side of the issue surrounding the Confederate monuments in the community as well as people who simply did not have an opinion.
“I didn’t even hear what they were saying, and I don’t really know what’s going on other than something to do with the statue,” Woolf said. “I don’t have any strong feelings either way.”
Some of the bystanders present on the Square were not even aware of the protest until their arrival. A group of people was waiting for its dog to be groomed in a local shop, and another had intended to go shopping on the Square that day but was unable to as a result of the event.
Others had planned to be on the Square regardless but chose to alter their schedules to be able to see the event.
“I usually come here on Saturdays, but I figured it would be good to come down early before it started to see how many people would show up just out of curiosity,” sophomore public policy leadership major Sabine Horne said.
The neo-Confederate activists marched to the Ole Miss campus after rallying on the Square. On campus, they organized near the Confederate monument on the Circle from 2:30-3:30 p.m.
The rally ended with no violence or injuries, according to University Police Department Chief Ray Hawkins.
Check out our full coverage of the weekend protests here.