By Kelly Morgan
Protesters for and against removing Sylva’s Confederate monument from the steps of the old Courthouse will hit town Saturday.
A protest in support of keeping the 1915 bronze statue steps is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the courthouse.
“This is not a Confederate rally,” Sylva resident and event organizer Frank Huguelet said on his Facebook page. “You do not need guns. You do not need Confederate flags. We only get one history. And if we do not guard it, even the bad parts, we are dooming ourselves to repeat it.”
For more information on this protest, see the flier on Huguelet’s FaceBook page.
A march in favor of removing the monument is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Bridge Park in Sylva. The protest includes a speaker series followed by a march.
The protest, called Reconcile Sylva, is organized by a group who say they are “tax-paying Jackson County residents.”
“Please join us to stand for the Sylva you want to see,” the group said on its Facebook page.
“We are a group of 24 individuals in the community who evaluate and make our decisions as a collective representation of this movement in our community,” the group said when asked who was behind the Facebook page and event.
They suggest protesters arrive as early as 9 a.m. in order to visit the Farmer’s Market before the event, and they request that everyone who is physically able wear a mask.
For more information on this protest, see the “March to Reconcile Sylva” Facebook event.
The Reconcile Sylva group has a permit to gather at Bridge Park from 1-3 p.m., Sylva Police Chief Chris Hatton said.
The group approached the department and asked to take the same route as a June 13 walk through town – west on Mill Street, up Schulman Street and loop down West Main Street and back up Mill Street to Bridge Park.
Hatton is calling in additional agencies to help with the events, he said Monday.
“I don’t know who all,” he said. “That’s part of this week’s work for me. The plan right now is not to re-route traffic. They’re going to walk on the sidewalk, but we have to be ready to re-route traffic if we need to.”
Hatton said he has been asked repeatedly by folks on both sides of the issue, “Why are you allowing them to do this?”
His department has no control over who protests and why, he said.
“Our job is to keep people safe while they are exercising their rights,” he said.
Hatton expects a little more tension in the air on Saturday.
“This one is different,” he said of the day’s events. “This one is focused specifically on the monument.”
The Courthouse and Library building and the slope below are county property. The county has no permitting process, said Major Shannon Queen of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.