Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Rockville rejects Confederate statue - now what?

The City of Rockville has declined to accept the controversial Confederate statue Montgomery County wants to relocate from the historic Red Brick Courthouse to the Beall-Dawson House. Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and the City Council voted 4-1 to reject the statue, with Councilmember Beryl Feinberg the lone dissenter.

The decision primarily turned on the County's refusal to pay the full costs that would be involved in securing and protecting the statue. "I don't want to see it warehoused forever," Newton said, "but I also don't think it's the city's responsibility to take it. I'm firmly in the camp of not accepting it."

"Rockville is being put on the spot. It would utterly dominate that site," Councilmember Mark Pierzchala said in starting the discussion Monday night. "It would be very difficult to place in historical context. I am leaning at this point against agreeing to accept it."

Feinberg, who is a County employee, said she did not believe she would be biased in making her decision, and that she had not been pressured by the County to vote in any particular way. After consulting with the City Attorney, Feinberg said she had concluded that she would not have to recuse herself in this case.

It will be a major embarrassment for the County if it is forced to mothball the statue in a warehouse someplace.

But the Beall-Dawson House was never an ideal location, anyway. The statue was sure to be vandalized repeatedly, now that it has been made into a target. And, as offensive as the statue is to many, it was also offensive to descendants of Confederate veterans to position the statue in a direction other than facing south, as had been proposed for the Beall-Dawson site.

This statue should be placed where its significance and meaning are appreciated, such as in a Confederate cemetery. It's hard to believe there isn't one somewhere that would be glad to accept it. Ultimately, it's sad that future generations in Rockville will grow up with no idea of their City's full role in the Civil War, in both its positive and negative aspects.


  1. This is an asinine response to current race-related events. Relocating or warehousing this statue will have NO effect whatsoever on race relations. This is simply a political maneuver and is misdirecting anger and frustration into the most glamorous yet least productive solution. People need to be examining the underlying issues, doing some soul searching and coming together to find ways to solve them instead of laying all the blame on history. Perhaps our city and county can form some kind of public-private community task force on this issue (which is not going to go away on its own or by frivolously erasing a Confederate reference).

  2. The impact of this statue on the image of our city has not been just a recent event. For years members of the indigenous black community , and many in the white community, have opposed this statues presence. As a native of Rockville, and I will assume 9:55 AM is not, applaud the actions of the council in finally rejecting this monument to a dark period in the city's history.

  3. Robert, Who said, "It will be a major embarrassment for the County if it is forced to mothball the statue in a warehouse someplace." Was that your comment or the remark of a Rockville official? Thanks.

  4. 12:02pm, you are correct that I (9:55am) am not a native of the area and do not know of past issues with the statue. However, I still feel that this move does nothing to actually solve any problems, unless of course it is followed up with serious dialogue and effort to repair race relations. Otherwise, it is just a token action, albeit a very expensive token and nothing more. It merely emboldens the vandals who defaced it (who by the way will then move on to their next act).

    I believe in preserving history in its various forms. To not do so is an insult to those who came before us. I come from a country which was the victim of colonialism yet I do NOT advocate tearing down references and symbols of the colonizing country. Why? Because the past is the past and these symbols serve to remind us of what our country and its people at the time went through. Sure my people were oppressed at one time but that time is long gone. The question before us is what can we do on our own to improve our situation today. History may have given us some disadvantages but we are still empowered human beings in a country that provides no shortage of opportunity to succeed.

    The Confederate statue is there to commemorate those who died fighting on that side. To make it equitable, such a symbol actually could be constructed for the Union side as well (maybe a win-win solution) but is not necessarily needed because the Union won! Our country, system of government, laws and we the people are living reminders of this fact. I can certainly empathize with those who feel hurt by that statue but the fact is it represents history. That statue is not a living breathing entity still wielding oppressive power today. Let's not give it more importance that what it deserves. While a bit corny, there is actually something to be learned in the phrase "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me".

  5. To add one more thing, these are my views only. Robert has nothing to do with them, he is doing a great job reporting the news in a factual light.

  6. One thing that mystifies me - how was the culprit(s) who vandalized the statue never identified. The number of police vehicles in town center is the highest in the County - City, County, Sheriff, and sometimes State Police cruisers all over the place. There must have been innumerable surveillance cameras on government buildings and at nearby businesses the perpetrators would have been caught on. How can it still be unsolved?

    1. Robert, your answer can be found at:

    2. Love it!!!


    3. LOL That's really funny!!!

    4. Robert, Did you do this joke photo? It's very humorous. Can you post it?