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Marion County Sheriff threatens columnist after opinion piece

"As long as I am Sheriff of Marion County, the statue will not be moved, defaced, or altered in any way, and Palmer, or anyone else who attempts to do so, will find a new home that is fairly close to the statue that offends him.”
In the March 5th edition of the Jefferson Jimplecute, Bob Palmer published an opinion piece...
In the March 5th edition of the Jefferson Jimplecute, Bob Palmer published an opinion piece titled "A Moving Decision". In it, he states although the county is in the middle of a multi-million dollar restoration project for the courthouse, after the changes are made, the confederate statue on the grounds will still be there.(KSLA)
Updated: Mar. 6, 2020 at 8:26 PM CST
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JEFFERSON, Tx. (KSLA) - An East Texas paper is drawing criticism from high places after an opinion piece on the Confederate Monument located on the Marion County Courthouse grounds.

In the March 5 edition of the Jefferson Jimplecute, Bob Palmer published an opinion piece titled “A Moving Decision”.

In it, he states although the county is in the middle of a multi-million dollar restoration project for the courthouse, after the changes are made, the confederate statue on the grounds will still be there.

Palmer suggests moving the Marion County Confederate Monument to the Jefferson Historical Museum grounds.

In the piece, he writes: ‘I truly believe the racist message this statue represents does not reflect the sentiment of Marion County today.’

Palmer says there were several reasons he wrote the piece.

“Three key factors went into bringing this piece about,” Palmer said. “One was a visit last year from a southern heritage group to Jefferson that caused us to look at their roots and their stance that they were taking publicly on their social media and what they meaning of these statues and other confederate symbols that are around the country are. They are not the honoring of ancestors they were a racist message. That has been brewing in the Jimplecute collective mind for almost a year. The second point was last week Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Berger ordered the removal of all Confederate symbols from Marine bases. The third factor is that Marion County is in the middle of restoring the courthouse to 1914 status when it was first built. The state of Texas is spending more than 5 million dollars to make this happen through a historical grant. The statue was not on the courthouse lawn in 2914. If we are to restore it to 1914 status the statue should move.”

Palmer says he knew the piece would generate a response.

“There has been negative, there has been pro," Palmer said. “There are people who respect the right of an opinion to be voiced and there are some who don’t want to have their sleep disturbed. There are those that are resentful of this, there are those that support it is now time, in the 21st century, to move past the Civil War.”

One of those who spoke against the column was Marion County Sheriff David McKnight, who posted on the official Sheriff’s Department Facebook page, which in part says:

"As long as I am Sheriff of Marion County, the statue will not be moved, defaced, or altered in any way, and Palmer, or anyone else who attempts to do so, will find a new home that is fairly close to the statue that offends him.”

“That seems inappropriate to me,” Palmer said. “We have to question if he is being reasonable here. He is talking about defacing the statue and illegal activities. Nowhere in my column do I say to deface the statue.”

Palmer says he doesn't regret writing the piece.

“Opinion pieces, if they don't generate a response, are a waste of space and ink,” Palmer said. “My job, my purpose, was to bring this topic to the community's knowledge and conversation. Let’s not just default and when they re-open the courthouse October 15 and Johnny Reb is standing out front just because he has always been there, or at least since the 1930s, let's not just default. Let's talk about it."

KSLA reached out to Sheriff McKnight for comment. He did not respond.

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