CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — Commissioners in the West Virginia county where Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson was born voted to keep his statue outside the courthouse after hearing public comments on a proposal to remove it.
The Harrison County Commission rejected the motion in a 2-1 vote Wednesday, news outlets reported.
If adopted, the motion would have returned the equestrian statue to the Daughters of Confederacy, which gifted it to the county in 1953, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reported.
Commissioner David Hinkle voted in favor of removing it, and said he was “very ashamed of the backbone” of the commission following the vote.
Nearly 20 people asked commissioners to let the statue stand or have voters decide its fate, while about a dozen others called for its removal, including two speakers who said they were Jackson's relatives, The Exponent Telegram reported.
“I’m a lifelong Civil War buff and I understand the fascinating history of Jackson and tragedy of the Civil War,” said Colin Grant Jackson, who joined the meeting virtually from Illinois. “But I also believe that a heroic statue of his cause in front of the courthouse sends a very specific message of white supremacy against the black population of the county.”
Another speaker, Ryan DeBarr, said he was a distant relative of Gen. Jackson’s grandfather, George Jackson. He said the statue is an “intentional slap in the face” to the state and its black citizens.
"What does it say that a statue of a slave owner went up in 1953 at the height of the desegregation conflict? It says it’s not really about history,” DeBarr said.
Commissioners voted to let the statue remain after County Administrator Willie Parker noted the measure did not qualify to appear on a ballot.