Police, citizens guard Corinth Confederate statue after online threat

CORINTH, MS (WMC) - Corinth police officers are guarding the Confederate monument that sits in front of Alcorn County Courthouse.

The monument honors William Rogers, a colonel in the Confederate army. Rogers also practiced medicine and law.

Corinth Police Department said officers were alerted to an online threat that said people would be tearing the monument down on Friday afternoon. The threat also called for the removal of 10 other statues across the south by 5 p.m.

After the deadly white supremacist rally in Virginia, pushes to remove Confederate monuments have grown. Various cities throughout the south, including Memphis, are discussing the legality of removing the monuments.

A small crowd of people stayed around the statue all day, including Wade Sockwell, who drove 40 miles from Alabama.

"I want preservation of history, all good and all bad of history," Sockwell said.

Police and sheriff's deputies stood guard, putting a barrier around the statue.

"We are taking that threat seriously," said Corinth Police Chief Ralph Dance. "We're going to protect our property the city and county people paid for. We're not going to let outsiders come in here and destroy our community."

Citizens stood alongside law enforcement, not inspired by hate they say, but inspired to protect what they believe is history that deserves to be publicly displayed.

"Somebody tries to take it down, we will defend it," said Corinth resident Chris Grimes. "Hopefully not violently, we don't want to be violent."

Stockwell has a message for those who say this monument to a Confederate colonel is offensive.

"Well then don't look," Stockwell said. "They've been here for over 100 years now."

Anonymous, the online hacker group, designated Friday as "Denouncement Day" to denounce racism, bigotry, and hate.

Hours after the 5 p.m. deadline, the monument still stands. But the people defending it say the fight isn't over.

"I didn't really figure they would," said Kevin Nelms, who grew up in Corinth.

At Rodger's feet are inscribed the words "brave," "patriotic," and "honorable."

All day Friday, law enforcement officers and citizens, some armed, guarded those words.

"I'm here to keep that monument standing right where it's at," Nelms said.

Law enforcement said even though nothing happened, they're still going to keep watch.

"We're going to sit there with it, we're going to monitor the next day or so until we feel like this threat has passed," said Corinth Police Chief Ralph Dance.

Others plan to stay nearby as well, only intervening if they think it's necessary.

"If the law wasn't here, and some people start trying to take this monument down then I'm going to do what I have to do to protect that monument and keep it standing right where it's at, whatever it takes," Nelms said.

But not everyone in the small town agrees.

"I think this statue needs to come down, I think that flag needs to come down," said Wendell Jourdan, who also lives in Corinth. "I have black friends, and it embarrasses me."

They disagree over what the monument stands for.

"They're not symbols of racism," Nelms said. "They're symbols of people that stood up and fought for our country. I mean, I know the South seceded, but they're the last ones that really fought for the Constitution."

"It's just ridiculous, it needs to come down, and it's just a symbol of oppression," Jourdan said. "Just take the dang gum thing down!"

However, there's one thing they can agree on.

"We're in such a divide right now in the United States over the issue of race, and it's bad, I mean it's bad, it's really bad," Nelms said.

But the debate continues on how to achieve unity in the United States.

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