The threat of an attempt to remove the statue led to a crowd of around 100 people assembling peacefully at court square around 5 p.m. in support of the statue, which was erected in honor of Colonel William P. Rogers. Many more people took a look as they drove around the block. There did not appear to be anyone voicing opposition to the monument.
A large law enforcement presence kept an eye on the crowd and the statue, which was surrounded by barricades marked “do not enter.”
Among the people who came from out of town after learning about the threat by the group “Anonymous” was Wade Sockwell of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Since the morning hours, he stood on the grounds holding a copy of the original Confederate national flag.
“I’m strictly here for the preservation of history. That’s American history, too,” he said, indicating the monument. “If you take away historical things, you no longer have a common culture.”
To remove the statue would be like ignoring a part of history, he believes.
“To some, it’s a sign of racism, but it’s a sign of many, many things,” said Sockwell. “It’s a sign for state’s rights. It’s also a work of art. And it’s freedom of expression, as well.”
He hoped to see the gathering remain peaceful.
“I think there’s just too much division right now in this country,” he said.
An SCV member from Ripley who asked to be identified only as “Gunner” walked around the block carrying a flag.
“We’re just here to protect public property, and that’s all,” he said. “We’re not here to stir up any trouble or cause any problems.”
He believes it’s important for people to be aware of the history associated with the monument.
“They should be respected,” he said. “A lot of these statues, that’s the only memorial that a lot of those soldiers had.”
Federal law enforcement advised the sheriff’s department and police department to regard the threat to the monument as credible.
“We are taking that threat seriously,” said Sheriff Ben Caldwell. “We believe we live in a community where we all get along. We all work together, no matter our race or our background. We don’t believe anyone in our community would take part in this. However, we are concerned about individuals from outside our area.”
The threat, which listed 11 monuments in several states, specified a time of 5 p.m.
“We don’t want any problems in the city and county,” said Police Chief Ralph Dance. “We are going to sit there with it. We’re going to monitor it for the next day or so until we feel like this threat has passed. We’re going to protect our property … These folks worked and paid for this property, and it’s going to be taken care of.”
Anonymous is an activist group that has been associated with hacking activities and whose members are known to wear Guy Fawkes masks. A twitter hashtag [#DaytoDenounce] was promoting Friday as a day to take down Confederate statues.
It is unknown why Corinth was targeted on the list of 11 locations, which included monuments in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida and other states.
Local SCV member Bobby McDaniel was among those in the crowd as the 5 o’clock hour passed. He was skeptical that anyone would attempt to harm the statue amid such a scene.
"If I was going to come out to your house and I was going to steal your deep freeze,” he said, “would I tell you when I was coming?”
The monument originally stood in the intersection of Waldron and Franklin Streets, about 500 feet from its current spot at the corner of court square. It was moved after the automobile became common and several collided with the monument.
Rogers, a Texan, was buried at Battery Robinett, where he died during the second day of the Battle of Corinth on Oct. 4, 1862. In 1896, an association emerged with the goal of erecting a monument to Rogers.
The local SCV group is named for the colonel.