Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Lafayette Leaders Reject City’s Claim of Ownership of Confederate Statue

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors issued a letter to the Oxford Board of Aldermen recently, essentially telling the city to stay off their lawn.

In a letter sent Aug. 18 to the Supervisors, the Aldermen raised the question as to whether the county owns the property where the Confederate statue sits, just off the sidewalk on the south side of the Lafayette County Courthouse.

The city claimed it found evidence that in May 1868, the county conveyed “that portion of the County property known as the Public or Court Square” to the governing authorities of the Town of Oxford “in fee simple forever,” which is the highest possible ownership interest that can be held in real property.

In its rebuttal letter dated Aug. 27, the Board of Supervisors questioned the motives behind the city’s sudden decision to raise the question of who owns the property. The Board stated that the county has exclusively controlled and managed the Courthouse property since 1871-72.

Lafayette County Courthouse

“At no time did the City question the County’s ownership and jurisdiction, until now,” the letter states.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill said in August that the city was approached by citizens asking the city to look into who owns the property where the statue sits.

In July, the Board of Supervisors held a public hearing regarding moving the statue and ultimately, voted to keep the statue where it has been since the early 1900s.

“At no time did the Board of Aldermen take a position of ownership or seek to provide any input during this process,” the Supervisors’ letter states. the Board of Supervisors’ vote, several protests have occurred in front of the Lafayette County Chancery Building and the Courthouse. Several Facebook groups, including LOU Take it Down and Letters to the Supervisors popped up after the vote and supervisors received hundreds of emails and letters, mostly in favor of moving the statue since July.

The letter to the city claims the Board of Aldermen is reacting to “political pressure,” to create an issue of ownership.

“This is unfortunate in the County’s view because the manner, substance, and timing of the City’s July and August letters undermine County and City relations to the detriment of our community, and needlessly adds to the associated costs and other resources already spent on this issue,” states the letter from the Board of Supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors stated that after reviewing all available records and the county’s history of maintaining the entire Courthouse property since the late 1800s, the county “firmly believes it owns the Public Square area, including the area where the memorial is located and sees no reason to further belabor an issue it has already decided.