The KKK is featured in a Florida courthouse mural. Lawyers are demanding its immediate removal.

The KKK is featured in a Florida courthouse mural. Lawyers are demanding its immediate removal.

7/14/2020 3:49:00 PM

The KKK is featured in a Florida courthouse mural. Lawyers are demanding its immediate removal.

The three hooded Klansmen lurk in the background of a large mural about the history of Baker County, Fla.

AD“Lawlessness among ex-slaves and troublesome whites was the rule of the day. No relief was given by the carpetbag and scalawag government or by the Union troops. The result was the emergence of secret societies claiming to bring law and order to the county. One of these groups was the Ku Klux Klan, an organization that sometimes took vigilante justice to extremes but was sometimes the only control the county knew over those outside the law. The Klan faded from view at the end of Reconstruction. It had minor come-backs in the 1920’s and mid 1950’s. Since then it has become the subject of legend rather than a cause of fear.”

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ADIn 2001, then-8th Circuit Chief Judge Stan Morris refused to allow the mural to be hung directly outside his second-story courtroom — for the very reason the painting is facing heat today. Instead, the county apparently compromised by hanging it by the main entrance on the first floor, where government offices are located,

the Florida Times-Union reported in 2015.Barber was indignant. He accused Morris of taking issue with “some undeniable facts of history” and said other detractors wanted to revise history, according to a statement archived by the historical society. He saw the debate over his mural as a symptom of the “currently popular polarization of the races.”

AD“I did not follow the current and unfortunate fad of revising history for the sake of making it fit the wishes of any special interest segment of society,” he wrote in a note accompanying the painting upon completion,“I avoided as carefully as possible interpreting the past using our contemporary standards. The history of the county is here … warts and roses and all.”

ADFor protesters as well as lawyers, however, the issue isn’t so much the inclusion of the KKK in a mural about the county’s history, but the mural’s location. In courthouses, Confederate imagery has faced especially loud calls to come down. Stone said he is sympathetic to concerns about preserving history — “but there is a time and a place for everything.” Courthouses, he said, are not the places to remember the KKK.

In Baker County, lawyers and activists unsuccessfully tried to get the mural removed in 2015, after white supremacist Dylann Roof massacred nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C.ADLast week, they marched outside the courthouse again, and then voiced their opposition to the courthouse mural during a county commissioners’ meeting on July 7.

“Let’s be clear. We’re not here because we have an issue with the mural. We are here because have an issue with the Ku Klux Klan on the mural — in the courthouse,” Baker County resident Kaila Givens said during the virtual meeting.AD“The KKK symbolism is not needed for the mural to reflect the county’s history,” she continued. “Some say it was the artist’s intent to show the bad side of Baker County. It doesn’t matter what the intent was. It matters that as a taxpayer I have the right to not be forced to relive this painful part of history every time I enter a building that I pay for.”

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ADOne resident who spoke during the meeting in support of keeping the mural there, Joshua Mullens, took Barber’s view, saying “We feel there will always be aspects of history that some will consider offensive and when you start removing offensive history it does not take long before it is no longer history but instead a mere fairy tale.”

Rather than erase it completely, several residents suggested relocating the mural to the Baker County Historical Society or giving it to Barber’s family.ADStone, the president of the state criminal defense lawyers’ association, said it belonged in a museum — anywhere but a court of law.

“If you want to show this was part of our history, okay, it will create discussion, it will create debate, it will make sure people don’t forget,” he said, “but it won’t be a venue where you’re then going to go in and have people decide your fate.” Read more: The Washington Post »

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Did you say Florida? 🙄 Technically an embarrassing part of American History. America is EMBARRASSED it allowed a cult to follow in the footsteps of Adolf Hitler? Then they shoulda shut it down when it FIRST presented itself. ShouldaCouldaWoulda Guess fake 45 will get on the barricades again defending this,his family's heritage this.

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