I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Notes on the Confederate Memorial Lawsuit: The plaintiff’s “petition” makes claims they can’t prove and one they can prove

The last post contained the University statements about what they intended to do relating to things like the Confederate statue.  They looked to a model that  “[w]ithout attempts to erase history, even some difficult history, and without removing existing statues and building names… initiate[d] an effort to provide contemporary context for some of our existing symbols and names, which are too often viewed as an endorsement…”  The report noted:  This might be done in a number of ways, including accompanying plaques that provide context and an educational opportunity for students and campus visitors who are interested in our history.”

So, there is no firm plan, but they are going to consider adding some sort of plaque to provide context.

The other thing the report does is state that the University is going to change the name of Confederate Drive to Chapel Drive.

Here’s what the Sons of Confederate Veterans lawsuit alleges.  It alleges that he Diversity Plan “indicated the possibility that the Confederate Monument… on the campus of UM… may be moved or repositioned or otherwise damaged or desecrated in some manner.”

No, it does not.  That allegation will not be proved in a hearing.  The complaint goes on:

[T]he SCV feels that it should take every measure to ensure … that no plaques or placards are placed in [the monument’s] vicinity which will in any way take away from its meaning or in any way distort its significance….

The SCV requests… an injunction against the University of Mississippi, enjoining and preventing the University of Mississippi from disturbing or otherwise altering, desecrating, attacking, removing or placing any kind or plaque or placard which may in any way change alter or disturb the significance and meaning of the Confederate Monument on the campus of UM, with this monument to retain its special sentimental and emotional value to those people who lost loved ones in the War Between the States….

With no evidence that the University has any intent to alter, move, or desecrate (?) the statue, I do not see how they can get an injunction against that.  The question, then, is whether there is any basis in law for enjoining the University from placing some sort of plaque or historical marker by the statute.  The only authority for any relief cited in the complaint is the state statute protecting war memorials.

The complaint also alleges that the “‘Diversity Plan’ of UM proposes to remove the name ‘Confederate’ from this street and name it another ‘less offensive’ name.”  The complaint states that SCV will show that the name and cemetery are not offensive to most people in the State, county, city, or student body.  It is the ingress and egress to the cemetery.  The descendents of those buried in the cemetery have a right of ingress and egress to the cemetery and, “as a Confederate Cemetery, it is to be protected by the State of Mississippi which was responsible for raising the Confederate units from this state….”

There is no evidence relating to access to the cemetery, and Confederate Drive no longer leads to it.  The SCV wants to enjoin the name change because the road name is a war memorial and because it leads to the Confederate Cemetery.  Here again, the authority is the statute protecting war memorials.

Next post will be about that statute and whether they have standing are entitled to relief.

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