New park stirring up controversy in Palestine - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

New park stirring up controversy in Palestine

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PALESTINE, TX (KLTV) -

A new park in Palestine doesn't open until Friday, but it's already causing a lot of controversy in the community.

The park will be home to the Confederate Veterans Memorial Plaza and will honor Confederate veterans from the Civil War. But opponents say the park is divisive and only serves as a memory to a past they'd rather not have to think about on a daily basis.

Palestine NAACP president Kenneth Davidson has organized a protest against the new plaza.

"A lot of people do not like this," Davidson says. "I have people coming from Beaumont, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso because they're afraid that it's going to be their town or city next. It's time to stop this."

Davidson says he mainly takes issue with the park choosing to fly the Confederate flag.

"You can honor the history of your ancestors any other way besides flying this flag," Davidson said. "You know what this flag stands for, you know what it means to a lot of people. We do not want this here. We don't appreciate it here. Hopefully the city and the state will abolish this park and have it removed."

But leaders of the Sons of Confederate Veterans say that's not what the flag means to them.

"That flag was hijacked years ago by a hate group that we do not associate with," said Dan Dyer. "We denounce them. The flags of the confederacy are the flags that our ancestors fought under. We regret that this hate group hijacked the flags back in the 1950s and 1960s but that's not what we're about."

"It's a place to honor my ancestors who served the Confederate States Army," said Mark Robinson. "It's very important that I'm not only given the opportunity to honor them but to also share their true history."

Davidson disagrees.

"It's not about me and it's not about the sons of the Confederate veterans," Davidson said. "It's about this flag and this park, because it's dividing this city. It's about hatred. It's about slavery and it's a breeding ground for more violence to come into Palestine."

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