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Courthouse Mural With KKK Must Go, Say Lawyers

Group joins protesters in demanding its removal in Baker County, Fla.
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2020 1:53 PM CDT

(Newser) – A group of 1,200 lawyers says it's about time a mural depicting KKK members is removed from a Florida courthouse. It symbolizes "everything a judicial system should oppose: racial discrimination, racial supremacy, terrorism and vigilantism," Mitch Stone, president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, tells the Florida Times-Union. The group is demanding the immediate removal of the 135-square-foot mural at the Baker County Courthouse in Macclenny, which depicts 43 scenes from local history. In one scene, three KKK members in white robes and hoods are shown on horseback. The mural was painted in 2001 by the late Eugene Barber, a founding member of the local historical society. In a guide to the mural, Barber noted the KKK "sometimes took vigilante justice to extremes but was sometimes the only control the county knew over those outside the law."

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The former chief judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court, Stan Morris, refused to allow the mural to be hung outside his second-story courtroom in 2001, reports the Washington Post. Despite heavy criticism, it was instead hung to face the first-floor entrance. But "it is not something people need to be reminded of as they enter the courthouse to judge or to be judged," says Stone. "This is not a museum." Protesters demanded the mural's removal earlier this month. "We're all here for protecting the integrity of the painting, and also compromising with those people who believe that it is their heritage," Da'Jah Roberts told WJCT. "That's why we're pushing so hard for it to be rehomed and not defaced." The protesters had hoped to appeal to County Commissioner James Croft. The lawyers' group has asked Chief Judge James P. Nilon to issue a ruling in its favor. (Read more Florida stories.)

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