Debate rages on over whether to remove Confederate monument at Liberty Cemetery

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LIBERTY, Mo. — There’s no middle ground on what a century-old and un-named Confederate monument means to some people living in Liberty.

“He is for impoverished Civil War veterans. That’s what he was purchased for, and that’s what he is,” Gieselle Fest said. “All these people deserve to be respected and honored.”

“One of the inscriptions on the monument is a Confederate battle flag. Another name is Forest Bedford who was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan,” Theresa Byrd said. “It was planted here in order to intimidate and continue the racial biasness and that kind of white supremacy bias.”

The monument was erected in 1904 by the United Confederate Veterans and purchased using donations.

It’s been months since the debate first began about this un-named Confederate statue and its place at this public cemetery.

FOX4 visited the site and spoke to people who opposed the monument in June 2020.

As time passes, the group opposing the statue, Clay Countians for Inclusion, has made a $10,000 contribution towards its removal.

“There continues to be trauma,” Byrd said. “Growing up, I was subjected to a lot of discrimination, bias, white supremacy, those kinds of idealizations. So every time I come past this this monument, I look at it, or even hear about it, that same type of trauma seems to rise up in me. I know how It impacts me, so I know how it impacts others.”

In November, the Liberty City Council met and voted to investigate the potential re-investment of the property and site, which is owned by the city.

Byrd said this is a step in the right direction.

But for all the people who support its removal, just as many support the monument staying in place.

“That makes me really sad. It makes me sad for everybody that’s extremely divisive,” Fest said. “I think that if you want to look far enough, you could find something to be offended throughout the cemetery. These guys have been dead for a long time. They not going anywhere.”

Although the groups on both sides of the debate have met several times, they still haven’t been able to find a compromise.

Close to 120 years later, there’s still an element of tense controversy.

Byrd and her group said they do not want the monument destroyed, just removed from the public cemetery lot.

“It’s been here as long as I’ve been alive, and the day that it is removed and I come by and no longer see it, I will be jumping for joy. I will be so grateful. Words can’t describe the joy I will feel as a result of that,” Byrd said.

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