A much-debated Confederate monument will now be displayed on private property in Franklin Township, local officials said Friday.
The monument was moved over the summer around the same time cities across the country removed Confederate monuments in response to a white nationalist rally that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Brian Morris, who is President of the Franklin Township Trustees, said he wants to preserve its history. The monument's new home will be in a new location along Dixie Highway.
"We just want to make sure it goes into a place that makes sense, that's logical, and a safe place to stay for years to come because we don't want to do this again," Morris said this past week.
Despite the controversy, Morris had said Franklin Township can use this experience to grow. He posted to Facebook about that topic this week:
Open letter to our Community,
For the past few months the Franklin Township region has dealt with protests and anger revolving around a historic monument. While this has raised internal struggle that we wrestle with, it has also opened dialogue that had been previously lacking. The dialogue I mention is not restricted to civil rights but also includes things such as religious freedom, political differences, and even the importance of truly understanding our American history and its importance to our future.
As President of the Franklin Township board of trustees I believe it is my responsibility to take a situation such as this and not only resolve it, but turn it into an opportunity for all of us to learn from.
On October 3rd I personally contacted a leader from the currently protesting organization “Socialist Alternative” and request a personal meeting. I did this with the understanding that my request to meet 1 on 1 could be quickly refused or simply turned into another negative situation. With optimistic conversation yet through very few words Corey Andon and I established a time and place to meet privately.
On October 4th this private meeting occurred at a neutral location. We agreed that we were not there to sway each other’s opinions. The two of us took time to understand the others view point and learn about each other as individuals. I asked where his Socialist views derived from and Corey was kind enough to explain his views and what Socialist Alternative truly represents. We also discussed items such as our children, our significant others, religion, and even the history of the towns that we grew up in. These conversations proved that while our political views were vastly different, we as individuals did have similarities. While we disagreed on many things, we found many common grounds and above all a mutual respect for one another. We talked for over an hour and left with open minds, a genuine hand shake, and the shared interest of bringing peace and a mutual closure to the situation at hand.
With this conversation many things were established and should be made clear.
While the monument will be returning in a new location on Dixie Highway, it will be doing so in a location that is privately owned property, not public property.
The threats and intimidation tactics that individuals on each side received were absolutely uncalled for and should never happen in the future. It is never acceptable to threaten violence to accomplish a political goal or undermines democracy. Neither side supports the threats that were received and we adamantly oppose such methods.
Socialist Alternative has clarified to me that it is not an Antifa organization as some have suggested. Socialist Alternative has also informed me that they have a track record of opposing hate, oppression, and fighting for working people which spans several decades. Socialist Alternative prefers to operate in a manner via the political process. This involves speaking to Council, calling reps, etc..
In closing, let this peaceful and prosperous resolution be a lesson. Open minds and heart filled conversations accomplish far more than anger and quick judgement. I am blessed and grateful for the opportunity that I have been given as a voice for the Franklin Township residents. I personally ask anyone reading this to use this as an example and learn from it.
Brian S. Morris
Franklin Township trustee