Project would create park, museum for confederate monuments in Van Buren

KNWA

Opposing groups agree Confederate monument in Bentonville should be relocated

VAN BUREN, Ark. (KNWA) — A local non-profit is working to preserve confederate monuments across the country by relocating them to a northwest Arkansas site.

It would start with relocating the confederate monument from the Bentonville square.

The James H. Berry Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy presented the monument to Benton County in 1908.

It frequently draws controversy.

It was most recently damaged in September, prompting a criminal investigation.

The Sons of the Southern Cross is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization made up of mostly veterans with Confederate ancestry.

It is based in Van Buren, and has 70 members that gather to sanctify the memory of the confederacy.

“My family had 93 confederate soldiers in our family, and that’s just on my fathers side,” says James Bible, President and National Commander. “I’m a true confederate southerner.”

The group’s I-40 Confederate Memorial Project would give confederate monuments and statues a permanent home.

“We’re trying to preserve our history and our heritage,” Bible said. “We would like to bring them here and then we can put them back on display, and then people that want to come see the monuments and want to listen to true southern history….they will have the opportunity to do that.”

It would cost roughly $1.5 million. The group is accepting donations for the project.

“Most people don’t know this, but Van Buren was the headquarters camp for the entire Confederate Army west of the Mississippi River. We thought it would be appropriate to do it here in Van Buren somewhere,” Bible said.

Confederate statues, like the one in the Bentonville Square, could be moved to it.

“A monument that was placed in center of Bentonville to intimidate a segment of the population and to continue to promote a culture of white supremacy has no place in Bentonville in 2019,” says Trevor Dane, who lives in Bentonville.

Dane and Sheree Miller are apart of the Facebook Group, “Shame of Bentonville.”

“A lot of activities take place here for the community. Our taxpayer dollars support the cleaning of the monument, the upkeep. I would feel more comfortable as a citizen, especially an African American citizen for it to be placed somewhere that it is appreciated. Not in the center of the town where everyone comes,” Miller said.

They have a petition to relocate the statue from the square. It has nearly 6,000 signatures on it so far.

“We’re not asking to destroy it or tear it down. We want it relocated,” Miller said.

On Sunday, Miller dressed as Harriet Tubman in protest of the statue.

The Sons of the Southern Cross showed up to the protest.

“There was common ground on…we both agreed that it was in the best interest of Benton County to have the confederate monument removed from the center of Bentonville,” Dane said.

With all their differences, they share a common goal.

“Lets do this peacefully and get it done,” Bible said.

Dane adds, “it was a model for dialogue to happen. We all recognize that.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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