Should I present at an open forum about a Confederate memorial?
August 18, 2017 2:44 PM   Subscribe

I have the opportunity to speak to a county conservation board about the removal of a Confederate memorial in my state. Should I do so?

By way of the SPLC's map, I discovered my state, a Union state during the Civil War, has a single Confederate memorial. It's to a general who was born here, lived here but one year, then moved to a Confederate state, where he rose through the ranks to become a Confederate general. He is certain to have commanded troops that killed my state's Union soldiers. He never returned here.

The memorial was installed in 2007 on public land in a rural county managed by the conservation board. Its sponsors were my state's chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a national organization.

I don't live in that county - I live about 2.5 hrs away - but as a resident of this state, I oppose this memorial. I (somewhat rashly, but very politely) wrote to the board saying so, giving my reasons, and they offered to hear me out next month at their next meeting. I'd have to submit a formal request to be on their agenda. They didn't say so, but I'm certain they'd offer a chance at rebuttal to the group that placed the memorial.

I'd go through with it if I thought that's as far as it would go. I fear it won't. I fear my name would be shared among the members and sympathizers of this group, and that I'd wind up a target. Someone from anywhere would learn my identity, I'd get doxxed or otherwise harassed, and my life would be a shit show. I wouldn't broadcast my involvement, but I'd be foolish to think the state's largest newspaper wouldn't get wind of this (at a minimum).

I want to have the courage of my convictions. I want to stand up for this cause. But I'm certain it would place me and my family at risk.

Two questions:
1. Should I do it?
2. If I choose to do it, what should I be prepared for, and what can I do in advance to protect myself and my family? Not super-tech savvy, here. Also, I'm all over the internet with a username easily linked to my real-world identity and that I've unwisely used across many platforms.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you find other people to also go and speak against it? You would be safer being part of a group. Is there an indivisible group or a BLM group in your area?
posted by SyraCarol at 3:59 PM on August 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'd have to submit a formal request to be on their agenda.

I like SyraCarol's idea about finding others who might speak.

A few additional thoughts:

Set up a throwaway google account. Make sure you have a reasonable sounding, non-identifying account name (i.e., "" or similar). Use this email on any registration forms.

Also, get a google voice phone number on this same account, and only give that number on any forms or registration materials.

Consider renting a car or taking some other form of transportation if possible to make it less likely someone at the meeting can get your license plate number if you are worried about that.

If possible take a friend/family member, even if they don't speak, just for your own confidence/moral support.

Finally, consider contacting someone at the ACLU, SPLC, etc. for additional help/support in keeping yourself safe and knowing your rights.

I tip my hat to you for what you are considering here.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 4:41 PM on August 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Is there a way you can see if any locals there share your opinion? In most places, and in rural areas especially, people tend to consider the opinions of their own residents (taxpayers/voters) more seriously than an outsider, which you are. If you're speaking there by yourself, there's the chance they'll just thank you for coming after you're done and then move on to other business.
Unfortunately, it sounds like you're going at public government meeting (public park district), so you'll likely have have to give your name and your hometown/address in order to speak.
posted by greatalleycat at 6:33 PM on August 18, 2017

I don't know that you have to be honest about your name and hometown, I believe you can use a different name as long as the purpose isn't furthering a fraud, from what I dimly recollect. but IANYL.
posted by gryftir at 7:19 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

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