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Two petitions aim to prevent confederate statue removal from courthouse grounds

Two counterpetitions have been created by Marshall citizens to keep the Confederate statue in its current location outside of the Harrison County courthouse in downtown Marshall.

The two petitions are a response to one recently created by Marshall Against Violence president Demetria McFarland, who created a petition over a week ago that calls for the removal of the statue from courthouse grounds.

McFarland also spoke to Harrison County Commissioner’s on June 24 to discuss her reasons for wanting the statue removed, referring to it as a symbol of white supremacy.

Community member LeighAnn Buchanan was present during McFarland’s presentation, and was one of the community members who began a petition against the statues removal. Buchanan’s petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/city-of-marshall-preserve-history-by-not-giving-in-to-people-that-take-advantage-of-other-events

This petition was begun three days ago and has over 1,700 signatures since Friday.

Buchanan said that she began the petition, as well as a Facebook group called “Save our Soldier”, because she believes removing the statue would be akin to erasing a piece of history.

“This is about the preservation of history,” she said. “We need to learn from history and sometimes those hard lessons are painful, but that means we need to learn from them.”

She said that the meaning of the statue, in her opinion, is to honor the young men who died in the Civil War, and its true meaning is being misrepresented in the public.

Buchanan said she is against moving the statue at all, but instead proposed that a new statue be added to the west side of the courthouse of James Farmer.

Farmer was an esteemed American civil rights leader and activist who was a native of Marshall.

“I feel like by adding this statue we can have a more full representation of our local history on the courthouse,” she said.

Another petition against the statue removal was begun by community member Susan Chamberlain on Tuesday, and has over 1,100 signatures as of Friday.

Chamberlain’s petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/harrison-county-marshall-texas-save-our-historical-statues-and-monuments

Chamberlain said that she is also working on a paper petition, and spent most of Friday outside of the courthouse signing people up in front of the monument. Though Chamberlain was not sure what the exact number of paper signatures were from Friday’s event she said they had a lot of people come out to sign.

“Just because it has confederate on it does not mean it is a confederate soldier,” she said. “This monument stands for all of the husbands, fathers, and sons who were drafted into war and never came home.”

She said that the Daughters of the Confederacy made it clear when the erected the statue in 1906 that it was a monument to those who served the cause with honor, and stood for all United States Veterans.

“I thought the president of that group was very eloquent when she said that this was not a statue that expressed positivity for slavery, but rather for those who fought with honor and never got to see their families again,” Chamberlain said.

Petitions on both sides seem to have an almost equal amount of support for the two causes.

While the counter petitions have begun to gain traction locally a number of Marshall natives have reached out to help McFarland with her goal of getting the statue removed, including Anna Ansari.

Ansari grew up in Marshall, graduating from Marshall High School before leaving the area for college. Ansari is now a practicing lawyer in Austin. She said that she originally heard about the petition after reading about the confederate statue in Gregg County.

“I didn’t even realize that we had a confederate statue in the area, and when I read about I learned it does not have any historical significance, it is just a mass produced statue for all of the soldiers who died in the Civil War,” she said.

Ansari said that she reached out to the Texas Historical Commission and learned that it would require the Harrison County Commissioners presenting the historical commission with a plan to move the statue before it can be done.

She then reached out to McFarland to express her support and offer her expertise to assist her in reaching her goal and removing the statue from courthouse grounds.

Ansari said that in Denton the confederate statue was placed in storage until a proper place to display it could be found. She said she would like to see this same thing done in Marshall.

McFarland’s petition to remove the statue can be found at https://www.change.org/p/harrison-county-commissioners-removal-of-confederate-statue-from-the-harrison-county-courthouse-grounds-marshall-tx?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=custom_url&recruited_by_id=1a5467b0-b1a9-11ea-887b-01626a7495b2 and has over 2,000 signatures as of Friday.

Even after arrests, MPD searches for more answers in shooting

Even though four arrests on riot participation were made this week, Marshall PD is still looking for answers from community members regarding a recent shooting. The riot arrest charges stem from the June 15 fatal shooting of Demarcus Sheppard at Bella Wyatt Park.

On Tuesday, detectives with the Marshall Police Department obtained arrest warrants for several individuals from the shooting at the park on East Rusk in Marshall.

According to MPD Public Information Officer Lieutenant Len Ames, the incident began as a planned fight and quickly escalated to gunfire resulting in one person, Sheppard, being shot and critically injured. Sheppard died from his injury on Tuesday.

Arrests include John Henry Van III and Ja’Von Henry Van, 21, Christopher Lamar Brown, 24, and Jacarrion Green, 18, all of Marshall.

There are additional suspects that have been positively identified as being involved in the shooting at Bella Wyatt Park that have outstanding warrants and are currently being sought.

The Marshall Police Department is asking anyone who witnessed the events that night come forward and provide information to the investigating detectives, or they can provide information anonymously to Marshall/Harrison Crimestoppers at 903-935-9965.

The P3 app is also an anonymous platform that can be used to submit information.

Uncertain's annual July Fourth Floating Parade on Caddo Lake still a go

UNCERTAIN — While some local events are being postponed or outright canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one annual tradition on one of Texas’ few natural lakes remains on the calendar.

The Uncertain Floating Independence Day Parade is set for 4 p.m. July 4 at Johnson’s Ranch Marina on Caddo Lake.

The annual parade features any boater who wishes to decorate their vessel and join the parade and will also include live music and a fireworks display this year.

Tildon Gillum will provide live music at the event and the Ms. Uncertain Pageant will also be held during the event.

The boats will be judged for their decorations and the fireworks display on the water will begin at dusk.

Johnson’s Ranch Marina is located at 5131 Cypress Drive East in Uncertain and can be reached by phone at 903-789-3213.

For more information about the event, follow its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/264986244780791/

Texas shuts down bars as hospitalizations surpass 5,000

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott shut down bars in Texas again Friday and scaled back restaurant dining, the most dramatic reversals yet as confirmed coronavirus cases surge to record levels after the state embarked on one of America’s fastest reopenings.

The abrupt closures began just days after Abbott described shutting down business as a last resort, and reflect how urgently Texas is scrambling to contain what is now one of the nation’s biggest hotspots. In the last four days alone, Texas has reported more than 23,000 confirmed new cases, and Friday surpassed 5,000 hospitalizations for the first time — a threefold increase from a month ago.

“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”

In Marshall, American Legion Post 267 Commander Mark Haines, is worried and frustrated with the recent closures.

“We have a wonderful finance person who stretches every penny but we are still concerned,” Haines said.

The American Legion reopened May 22, the first day they allowed to after the phase was instituted by Abbott.

“We are all hurting,” Haines said, regarding the bars. For the Legion, offering drinks is not just a way to have a good time, but also for them to help veterans. With the pandemic and the shutdown, Haines has dipped into his personal account to help veterans out.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and effort making sure tables are spaced out and our servers are being extra cautious with drinks and cleanliness,” he said.

For Legends Social Club in Marshall, they will be staying open, as far as the restaurant and event venue is concerned on Friday and Saturday nights staying under the 50 percent mark.

Local band, the Trevor Clark Band, will perform tonight at the event venue.

Tables and the outdoor seating is spaced out to promote social distancing.

Abbott also ordered rafting and tubing outfitters on Texas’ popular rivers to close, and required outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more to first seek approval from local governments.

Both the city of Marshall and Harrison County have implemented the same guidelines.

“Earlier today, Governor Abbott tightened some restrictions in response to the increasing number of cases statewide. One primary change that affects us locally is that outdoor gatherings above 100 persons must adhere to local regulations,” Harrison County Judge Chad Sims said.

The Texas GOP is also pressing ahead with a July convention in Houston and won’t require face coverings even though Abbott, the party leader, says everyone in Texas should wear one. And on Monday, early in-person voting begins in Texas for primary runoffs that Abbott postponed in March, saying at the time that holding the election as scheduled would “threaten the health and safety of many Texans.”

At that time, Texas had but a few dozen reported cases. On Thursday, the number of hospitalizations soared past 4,700, a doubling in under two weeks.

Abbott began lifting lockdown orders in May, and accelerated his own timelines on some openings amid protests from conservatives.

Abbott on Friday expressed regret for the first known time about the reopening process he spearheaded during the pandemic, saying he should not have allowed bars to open as quickly.

“If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars, now seeing in the aftermath of how quickly the coronavirus spread in the bar setting,” he said during an evening interview with KVIA in El Paso.

Abbott added that the “bar setting, in reality, just doesn’t work with a pandemic,” noting people “go to bars to get close and to drink and to socialize, and that’s the kind of thing that stokes the spread of the coronavirus.”

Texas reached a record high positive tests of 5,996 on Thursday. The state’s rolling infection rate was at nearly 12%, a level not seen since the state was in a broad lockdown. In May, Abbott set anything higher than 10% as a “red flag” in his reopening plan, which he says was backed by White House.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the COVID-19 virus without feeling sick.

Under the newest rollbacks, restaurant dining rooms must scale back to half capacity starting Monday.

The Texas Restaurant Association supported the rollback, but also pointed out that social distancing made it hard for most restaurants to exceed 50% capacity anyway.

The group also continued to press Abbott for a statewide mask policy. “It’s to ensure our restaurants aren’t law enforcement,” said Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO of the organization.

Harrison County COVID-19 deaths continue to rise

Harrison County suffered two more COVID-19 related deaths on Friday, County Judge Chad Sims reported.

The county was also notified of three new cases and 10 more recoveries.

“Please continue to pray for these families who are enduring these personal losses,” Judge Sims encouraged.

Of the 288 cumulative total of positive cases for the county, 30 have ended in death and 197 have been recoveries, for a current total of 61 active cases.

In neighboring Marion County, Judge Leward LaFleur reported one additional active case of COVID-19.

He noted that of the cumulative total of 24 positive cases for Marion County, one resulted in a fatality, and 17 are considered recovered, for a current total of six active cases.

“Please continue to pray for those affected by this virus,” LaFleur urged.

Statewide cases

According to the latest statistics on the Department of State Health Services database, as of 3:50 p.m., Friday, 244 of the state’s 254 counties were reporting cases.

Approximately 1,903,661 tests had been administered across the state. A total of 137,624 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed.

Of those, a total of 2,324 have resulted in death and 76,282 have recovered, for a total of 59,018 active cases.

DSHS Commissioner, Dr. John Hellerstedt asked all Texans to adhere to recommendations to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“This is the biggest COVID-19 challenge Texas has faced since coronavirus hit our state,” said Hellerstedt. “We need every single Texan to help.”

The DSHS suggests to follow these precautions to help:

  • Stay home when possible
  • Wear a face covering in public
  • Stay 6 feet apart from others
  • Wash your hands often
  • If sick, get tested then stay home
  • Clean your surroundings
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Don’t touch your face