A memorial monument dedicated to Confederate soldiers that had been displayed at a local museum has been removed amid fears it might be threatened.
Susan Lanning, director of the Audie Murphy American Cotton Museum, said the statue was removed this week from the museum grounds, where it stood since 2004.
“We decided to move it to a more secure location,” Lanning said, adding the decision was in response to multiple recent accounts of statues and monuments having been damaged.
“There’s just been a lot of Confederate statues destroyed recently,” Lanning said.
Mike Pierce, who is the commander of the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said the organization was informed recently that there were “legitimate threats” made against the monument.
“But I have not seen any proof of anything,” Pierce said.
Where the statue was moved to was not revealed.
“It is just at an undisclosed, safe location,” Lanning said.
Will Hobdy, president of the NAACP Greenville Branch, said he had not been made aware of any threats against the statue or the museum.
“Nor had I heard that it had been removed,” Hobdy said when contacted Tuesday afternoon. “If it has been removed, I think that is a great gesture.”
Pierce said the relationship between the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the museum has deteriorated in recent weeks and claimed the group was forced off the grounds when it was staging a peaceful “Confederate Heroes Day” ceremony.
“Frankly, I am very disappointed,” Pierce said, noting the Sons of Confederate Veterans has offered to take custody of the memorial and set it on private property.
“Our intention has always been clear … to protect and defend the good name of the Confederate soldier,” Pierce said. “They were hard-working individuals fighting for their country.”
The statue was dedicated on Jan. 5, 1926, under the direction of the Greenville Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy No. 1236 and was originally installed in front of the former home of Greenville High School in the 2800 block of Wesley Street. It was later moved to the Greenville High School, now the Greenville Middle School, at 3611 Texas St., before being relocated again to the museum as part of the Hunt County Veterans Memorial, which also included a statue of Audie Murphy and a list of all of the veterans from Hunt County who died during the wars of the 20th Century.
An inscription on the front of the base of the monument reads “Lovingly dedicated to the sacred memory of our Confederate 1861 - Dead -1865.”