Cookeville councilman wants signs around confederate monument saying it’s not city property

Community Unrest

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As unrest continues across the country against police brutality and inequality, Cookeville, a small city in Tennessee is rethinking confederate flags and monuments on city property.

One pretty big statue in particular in a city-owned cemetery is causing a lot of concern.

“One of the issues from one of the concerned citizens was, ‘If I want to be buried in the cemetery and there’s a large confederate monument in it, is the city cemetery inclusive for me?” said Cookeville City Councilman Mark Miller.

That monument, dedicated to the “greatest fighting force ever assembled” is part of a gravesite owned by the Sons of the Confederate Veterans at the Cookeville City Cemetery.

“In that monument, it talks about how they’re fighting for their constitutional rights, but it doesn’t talk about everybody in our community’s constitutional rights,” explained Miller.

“Would my family feel safe burying me in the cemetery because there’s a large confederate monument?” he said one person had asked him.

While the cemetery is city property, the plots of land are privately sold, so technically they can’t remove it.

“We’re asking the city manager to just put signs up that just state that,” explained Miller.

He’s drafted two resolutions asking the city manager to put signs around the monument saying it’s not city property and to remove any confederate flags or images from actual city-owned land.

Miller says it’s important the city take a strong stand now, after a recent attack during a Black Lives Matter protest.

“There were trucks with confederate flags circling the square, and one of the gentlemen got out and attacked one of the protesters,” Miller explained, “They were arrested for aggravated assault, but that was the flag they were flying whenever they violently attacked one of the protesters.”

Miller is hoping to make an example for the rest of the county, including one large confederate flag flying over Interstate 40.

“I just want to be a light and an example to the surrounding communities that if there are confederate flags,” he said, “That there is a government that is stepping up and saying ‘hey, this is not right, we don’t accept the ideologies of the confederate flag.'”

Council will vote on the resolutions July 2.


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