HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – There is a push in the city of Hot Springs to remove a Confederate Soldier statue from downtown. Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the monument to be taken down. Others are weighing in on social media who are against the removal.
Phillip Malone is one of more than 5,000 people calling for the removal of a Confederate statue on Central Avenue.
“If it were up to me, I would destroy it. I think it’s well past time for the removal of any Confederate memorabilia,” Malone said.
It’s all part of a Change.org petition circulating social media, but not everyone agrees with the push. Joel and Melissa Prickett were looking at the memorial Saturday and say it represents a part of the past.
“These are a part of history and they should stay,” Joel said.
They also said this statue has sat in this spot for more than 100 years and removing it would be like removing a chapter in a history book.
“If this monument is removed who will know what happened with the confederacy that took place,” Joel said.
Malone, on the other hand, says this monument is celebrating a dark part of the United States’ past.
“It’s sort of like a middle finger to minorities to me,” Malone said.
The property is owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many signatures the petition gets, they decide whether the monument stays or goes.
City Manager Bill Burrough said he talked with the owners about relocating the statue in 2017, but thinks it’s time to revisit that conversation.
“When there are such strong opinions on both sides then someone has to have that dialogue and if not me then who,” Burrough said.
He believes monuments that are in downtown should speak for the entire community.
“It’s not something that I think represents the city of Hot Springs as a whole,” Burrough said.
Ultimately, he hopes they can have an open conversation and find a solution for everyone.
“I’m not saying we need to tear the monument down. I’m just saying there is a more appropriate place to have it,” Burrough said.
We did reach out to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. We have not heard back.