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Bentonville Square Confederate Statue: Should It Stay or Go?

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — A controversial debate is heating up across the country over Confederate statues and monuments. Some states have gone as far as enact...

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — A controversial debate is heating up across the country over Confederate statues and monuments.

Some states have gone as far as enacting laws to protect them, others are removing them altogether.

The debate is now in Bentonville where a confederate soldier statue stands in the town square. It has been vandalized and now petitions are being thrown at county leaders on both sides of the issue.

"I think that what's happening with this confederate statue is happening around the country. It's kind of a sign of the times," said Benton County Judge Barry Moehring.

Moehring said he receives a lot of input from constituents over the statue.

"I have been approached, as you can imagine, by folks on all sides of this issue and there have been petitions flying around on all sides of this issue," Moehring said.

Those petitions have gained thousands of signatures.

One petition, called "Keep The James H. Berry Monument In Downtown Bentonville, Arkansas" is now closed and is listed as having 14,995 supporters.

It is not the only petition calling for the same action. There are several others with different amounts of signatures.

Another petition by Ozark Indivisible has over 5,700 online signatures to relocate the statue.

The statue was placed in the square in 1908 by the Daughters of the Confederacy to commemorate soldiers of the Civil War.

Sheree Miller, the co-leader of the group called "The Shame of Bentonville", said she wants to see the statue removed and relocated.

While the Farmer's Market was underway on the Bentonville Square, the group would gather on the square, hold signs and protest its existence.

"We want him moved to a location so people who want to see him, can see him. But not in our public county square," Miller said.

Those on the other side of the issue are not protesting but they are voicing their stance.

"That's not a problem," said Tiffany Rusk-Smith as she pointed at the statue. "The problem is when we want to tear down and rewrite our history."

"As a history major and former history teacher, I think we need to keep our history," said visitor to Bentonville Wayne Taylor.

The statute has been vandalized several times in the past and the bottom half of the musket is missing.

While the reasoning is unknown, to deface the statue or criminally take a souvenir, statues just like the one in Bentonville are being targeted across the country.

Two years ago, Baltimore removed four statues during night time.

Other cities have followed suit, but right behind them are states like Alabama who are enacting laws to protect these statues and monuments from being removed.

"As one public official, I also listen to what is happening in other jurisdictions," Moehring said.

As of right now, nothing more than the discussion and debate is happening concerning the statue.

"The City of Bentonville has not taken a position on it. Our quorum court has not taken a position on it," Moehring said.

He said the statue is protected by a court document to construct the statue in 1908. He said the Daughters of the Confederacy owns the actual statue.

"The court order that is in effect, if there was ever a move by the county to remove the statue. Really, we are not able to remove it. We would give the Daughters of the Confederacy 12 months notification," Moehring said. "Then, they would be obligated to remove it or else after 12 months notice we could. But we haven't issued that 12-month notice. Again, there hasn't been, from a public policy or official standpoint, a position taken by the city or by others."