Move the Monument Coalition, faith leaders and small business leaders have filed a friend of the court brief to show their support for the federal ACLU/NAACP lawsuit calling on the Talbot County Council to remove the Confederate statue from the courthouse lawn.
The amicus brief, filed in federal court in Baltimore Friday, Aug. 20, includes signatures from 14 faith leaders, 18 business leaders from Talbot County and the Move the Monument Coalition, a broad-based grassroots organization.
“It is unique for the court to hear the actual voices directly from the impacted community members,” said Attorney Robbie Leonard of Leonard & McCliggott Law Group in Cockeysville, Md., who filed the amicus brief.
Ridgely Ochs, a member of the Move the Monument Coalition leadership team, hoped the judge would take their filing into account.
“We are not lawyers,” she said. “We are just regular folk who live in Talbot County and we want the judge to understand how we feel about this monument.”
The lawyer representing Talbot County in the lawsuit, Kevin Karpinksi of Karpinski, Cornbrooks & Karp, P.A. in Baltimore, said he did not consent to the filing. The groups strongly objected and filed their brief regardless.
In the brief, Move the Monument Coalition argued that the Confederate statue, erected in 1916 and the last remaining on nonfederal public property in the state, “is a gross misrepresentation of the actual history of Talbot County in the Civil War, reflecting the utter falsehood that only those 82 men fought from this county in that war.”
“Many times more men fought to defend the Union in Talbot County and thus, the statue is not only political but ahistorical in fact. The statue symbolizes the state of public policy of Jim Crow Law more than a century ago, anathema to American society in the 21st Century,” the coalition said.
Business leaders argued that removing the Confederate monument from public property “is Talbot County’s lowest hanging fruit when it comes to lessening the racial disparities evident in its economy.”
“The monument to Confederate soldiers advertises to potential investors, entrepreneurs, tourists, and consumers that Talbot County is more comfortable preserving even its most tangible symptom of structural racism than it is with making the necessary choices to pursue racial equity and economic prosperity,” the business leaders said.
Faith leaders in the county said that “our respective faith traditions call us to imagine a world as seen through the eyes of the divine, and then to use our passion and energy to move toward this vision.”
“Talbot County needs to keep a clear vision of equity in the forefront as it works to assure fair treatment for all. The monument stands in the way of making progress toward this vision,” they said.