By Alyssa Schnugg
In light of the recent rally that started at the Lafayette County Courthouse lawn near the Confederate statue and ended at a like-statue on the University of Mississippi campus, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors has updated the county’s Facility Use Policy.
At the start of the regular Board of Supervisors meeting Monday, Lafayette County resident Effie Burt addressed the board with questions and concerns regarding the Confederate rally held Feb. 23 when two groups—Confederate 901 and Highwaymen—gathered in protest of recent discussions surrounding the future of the Confederate statues by student-led groups.
Burt often referred to the two groups as the “KKK.” Supervisor and board president Jeff Busby corrected Burt, saying the two groups do not call themselves the KKK.
“If you walk like a duck and you quack like a duck, you’re a duck,” she replied.
Burt said she was concerned about the presence of the dogs at the rally that said could have been used as weapons.
“A video online by one of these groups showed them strapping a knife onto the dog and commenting how the police didn’t bother to check the dogs,” she said.
Burt mentioned the rally’s cost to taxpayers for all the extra security measures needed that day.
“These people don’t even live in Oxford and Lafayette County but we are the ones who will pay for the extra police to keep a dangerous situation from getting out of hand,” she said.
Other concerns were the protesters being allowed to carry guns; however, County Attorney David O’Donnell explained the gun laws are state laws and the county can’t change them.
Burt asked the Supervisors to consider moving the statue to the Confederate cemetery on the Ole Miss campus removing the security issues involved in having such rallies on the popular downtown Square. Since Ole Miss is a university, open carry laws don’t apply on campus; however, those with the enhanced carry permit can bring a gun on campus in public designated areas only.
“They held this rally during Black History Month,” she said. “It wasn’t about history or protecting their First Amendment rights. It was to instill fear … If people wanted to preserve the Southern history that is associated with the Confederate flag and statue, then why haven’t they fought from keeping them from the hands of those who use them to symbolize hate and oppression?”
Busby said that while the board was not ready to vote on whether to move the statue, he told Burt that many of her concerns are addressed in the newly updated facility policy that was taken up for consideration following Burt addressing the board.
Some of the changes to the policy include extending the notice required to apply for a permit to use county facilities from five days to 30 days; charging a $25 non-refundable fee and then $50 an hour and a possible additional charge if the Sheriff’s Department deems the event will require additional law enforcement personnel or security measures.
Animals at rallies are now prohibited.
Any flags or signs cannot be displayed on anything more than poles that are greater than one-fourth inch in thickness or 2 inches in width. If not rectangular in shape, the object should not exceed three-fourths of an inch at its thickest dimension.
No person will be allowed to carry glass bottles, balloons filled with anything other than helium or air, wear body armor, or cover their face with masks with the intent of intimidation or hiding their identity.
The board approved the updated policy unanimously.