Monument police tape2

Police tape and orange barriers surround the Confederate monument outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse on Tuesday, following Monday's demonstrations that grew heated. [BERNIE DELINSKI/TIMESDAILY]

FLORENCE — A Monday evening demonstration outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse grew tense when the sides supporting and opposing moving the Confederate monument confronted each other.

The incident included someone who wants the monument moved marking on it with chalk, and someone who wants it to remain where it is slapping at a telephone that was being held by another protester.

Lauderdale County sheriff's deputies eventually cleared the scene.

Sheriff Rick Singleton said Tuesday he was reviewing videos of the incident that have been posted on social media but no arrests have been made.

In recent weeks there have been numerous rallies outside the courthouse, mostly from people who want the monument moved to Soldier's Rest in Florence City Cemetery.

There also have been separate rallies of supporters for both sides of the issue. All of the events had been peaceful before Monday evening's, Singleton said.

"It looked to me like the two groups started mingling, which hadn't happened before," he said. "Before, there was one group on one side and the other on the other side. A couple of people from both sides were physically touched."

The sheriff said one video showed someone who was writing on the monument with chalk possibly try to push someone else back, but he said he could not tell whether anyone was touched. Another saw someone take a swing at and hit the phone of an individual who wants the monument moved.

"Anybody in that situation last night who feels they have a complaint about how someone touched them can fill out a report and take that report to the magistrate, and the magistrate will decide whether there's probable cause to issue a warrant," Singleton said.

He said from what he saw in the videos, any possible charges would be Class C misdemeanors under the harassment statute.

"That has to do with physically touching someone," Singleton said. "It also has to do with making verbal threats, or using obscene threats to someone."

The sheriff said things got heated on both sides.

"Both groups been very cooperative with us and peaceful up until Monday night," Singleton said. "We fumbled the ball there because we didn't have a lot of deputies assigned to the event, because we really hadn't had the need. But in the future when both groups are going to be there, we'll have more people there.

"Both groups are guilty of pushing the other's buttons. A couple of people had more than they could take."

The sheriff's office has placed police tape around the monument and orange barriers have been placed on each of the four sides of its foundation.

"Nobody needs to be vandalizing the statue," Singleton said. "That's not going to accomplish anything. Both groups up to this point have been very cooperative with us, and we ask that they continue to cooperate. We respect their right to have their voice and protest, but when they start physically touching each other, that's going too far.

"There's a bunch of social media hype that's fanning the flames on both sides. That needs to stop."

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(1) comment

Patrick stroupe

Its amazing how before all this stuff in the news came on, that we've never had anyone complaining about it in the 110+ years its been standing there. All because people are so consumed by the television (internet news), that they believe reality is actually the way they show it to you. Protestors are just scum wanting publicity, because they've seen others getting attention on the news.

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