A group of protesters in Alabama took their demonstration to new heights last week by placing body bags on the Marshall County Courthouse lawn. The group has been calling on state lawmakers to remove the Confederate flag and a Confederate monument from the courthouse in Albertville, Alabama, since August, according to a report by CNN. This new demonstration drew fresh eyes to their cause.
The protesters created the bags to look like they contain corpses but were actually stuffed with newspaper and other trash. They included labels with names, prices and the phrase "Marshall's Heritage of Hate." These were the names of real slaves purchased in the county, the prices paid for them, and the language used to describe them at the time. Organizer Unique Morgan Dunston told reporters that the bags were meant to symbolize the Confederacy's brutality and remind people of the feelings its flag evokes for Black Americans.
"You have the right to fly the flag at home, on your truck, but it doesn't make sense for these symbols to be at our public courthouses where everybody has to go," Dunston said. "It's supposed to be a place for justice for all, to have to walk by that courthouse and see those traumatizing symbols of white supremacy, it's not fair."
I want to emphasize how gruesome and real the institution of slavery was, and how the Confederacy fought to uphold that institution," Dunston went on. "We are trying to move to a more inclusive space and the Confederate flag and the Confederacy was not inclusive. It was hateful and damaging and traumatizing to Black people and really, anyone who wasn't white."
The demonstration included ten fake body bags and 150 wooden dowels, with the names of slaves owned by U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall, for whom Marshall County was named. The courthouse has a stone monument outside with an image of Marshall standing in front of the Confederate battle flag carved into it. The stone is even painted with the flag's colors, and the flag itself flies on the poll above.
So far, rather than addressing protesters' concerns, Marshall County leaders have tried to change the local laws for peaceful protests. On Dec. 9, the county commissioners reportedly passed a resolution listing new guidelines for protests at the courthouse.
"It was getting to the point were I was getting scared that there would be some issues, people getting arrested and it was causing interruptions inside the Marshall County Courthouse," Marshall County Commission Chairman James Hutcheson told reporters.