After trying to remove a confederate statue in Alabama, this activist received death threats
"Confederate monuments commemorate and celebrate the Civil War," Camille Bennett said
As an activist, Camille Bennett has experienced everything from death threats, violent online messages, and intimidation attempts after starting her campaign to remove a Confederate statue in her hometown of Florence, Alabama.
A white pastor suggested that someone wire her mouth shut and a white motorist sped towards her while participating in a racial justice march and yelled, “Get the f–out the way,” according to Reuters.
The 43-year-old recalled being the only Black speaker during an LGBTQ Pride event in 2017. While there, she was taunted and heckled by five Ku Klux Klansmen (KKK) in hoods and robes.
“I was terrified. I was extremely intimidated,” Bennett said. “The work brings me an immense sense of joy. I don’t let the threats define me.”
Lori Feldman, 42, a white woman who is in favor of the statue’s removal, was present during the event, saying, “It was clear they wanted to make a statement of hate. There were kids who were crying, who were scared.”
Bennett continues to face legal and political roadblocks at the state, county, and city level as she confronts her hometown to really look at the origins of the Eternal Vigil, a white marble statue of a Confederate private located in front of Lauderdale county’s courthouse.
According to HISTORY, The Civil War began in 1861 after “decades of simmering tensions between northern and southern states over slavery, states’ rights and westward expansion.” Seven southern states formed the Confederate States of America after the election of President Abraham Lincoln. The war ended with the Confederates surrendering in 1865.
“The Civil War was about slavery. So, southerners were fighting to keep Black people enslaved and it’s as simple as that,” Bennett said. “Confederate monuments commemorate and celebrate the Civil War. So, you put the two together and what you have are shrines of white supremacy.”
Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group, says more than 300 Confederate monuments currently stand in the United States, mostly in southern states such as Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Bennett proposed to erect a monument next to the Eternal Vigil of an enslaved man named Dred Scott, who lived in Florence for 10 years in the 1800s and later gained freedom due to a landmark Supreme Court ruling after suing for his freedom in 1847. She was turned down.
The activist then called for the relocation of the Confederate statue to a Confederate cemetery near the courthouse, but five Republican Lauderdale Country Commission members refused, citing state law — the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 — which prohibits the removal and relocation of historic monuments.
“We’re not asking to demolish the statue. We came up with a compromise,” Bennett said.
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