Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Well, I Never Thought of That. . . .

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on January 24, 2012

The other day I mentioned the incident near Chappell Hill, where nooses were hung from a Sons of Confederates Veterans billboard along Highway 290, the main road between Houston and Austin. It seemed like a pretty crude and unfocused sort of protest at the time, and now columnist Bud Kennedy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, wonders if something else isn’t going on here:

But that was nothing compared with the silliness in Central Texas, where a Confederate heritage society e-mailed reporters early Tuesday with photos of two nooses hanging from a giant Rebel battle flag billboard on U.S. 290.

“It’s racist — a hate crime,” rancher Donnie Roberts said.

Washington County Chief Deputy Mike Herzog laughed.

“They were the first people who saw those nooses, and then they alerted the media,” he said.

I got the feeling he won’t bring in the FBI.

“It’s on a busy highway, and nobody else saw it,” he said.

It would have taken three people with a bucket truck and extension ladder to hang the nooses, he said.

Coincidentally, members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans history and heritage group responded quickly with a bucket truck and extension ladder to take them down.


Chappell Hill physician Robert Stark, also a Sons member, said Roberts saw the nooses first.

So what did they do?

Why, they were so insulted and threatened that Stark immediately took a bunch of photos and e-mailed them to a radio station.

KWHI/1280 AM’s website headlined “Local Billboard Vandalized.”

Roberts declared a “degradation of our historic heritage.”

At the sheriff’s office, Herzog called it a “prank.”

Deputies will investigate it as criminal mischief, he said.

Roberts said he wants the national SCV to investigate a “crime against our people” and will offer a $5,000 reward.

He said the suspect might be “white or black.”

But he added: “Well, it did happen on Martin Luther King’s birthday.”

“A crime against our people,” really?

I don’t know the truth of the matter here. Bud Kennedy’s obviously suspicious, and it doesn’t sound like Chief Deputy Herzog is especially concerned about it, either. Compared to other, very real cases of destructive, criminal vandalism, this latest event seems, well, curiously quaint.

What do I know? I know that, if someone did something like this on my property, calling the media to broadcast that fact would be pretty far down on my list of priorities. I would not be sending pictures of the thing to the local radio station. I would not be shooting my mouth off to reporters about it.

If this was indeed perpetrated by some stranger as a form of protest, I understand why the local SCV folks are unhappy about it. But whatever the real story behind the nooses, the local SCV seems quite content to play this “crime against our people” business for all it’s worth.

7 Responses

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  1. theravenspoke said, on January 24, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Now how could it be “racist” and a “hate crime” if…….

    1. Confederates were both black and white?

    2. The SCV isn’t white-only.

    3. No one knows if the “perpetrators” are black, white or some other ethnicity.

    I’m terribly confused,

    • Andy Hall said, on January 24, 2012 at 9:49 am

      “I’m terribly confused.”

      Me, too.

      But keep in mind that, among some of the more outspoken Confederate heritage folks, it’s a core conviction that their critics are the “real racists.” For example, the NAACP, which has long opposed publicly-sponsored displays of Confederate symbols (especially the Battle Flag, which features prominently on this particular billboard) is regularly derided in particularly venomous ways — called the “tanned klan” and “National Association of Always Complaining People” and so forth. (Check out this comment on the billboard incident for a sample of the rhetoric used about “the blacks.”) The MLK holiday, which by happenstance of the calendar occurs at around the same time in January as the celebration of Lee’s and Jackson’s birthdays, is a particular flash point of contention, which played into the dispute over flags in Lexington, Virginia recently. One of the SCV members who reported the incident, Donnie Roberts, was careful to say that the perpetrator(s) in this case may be “white or black,” but that’s clearly not the message the local SCV is trying to get across to its supporters, or to the public.

  2. corkingiron said, on January 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    “Criminal Mischief”? Michief generally refers to an interference with another’s property – rendering it unsafe or unusable. Does rendering something crudely risible fall into that same category? And why am I asking you this anyway? You’re obviously one o’ them “White Yankees” skulking about……

    What a world!

    • Andy Hall said, on January 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      I think the preferred term in my case is “scallawag.”

      If the quotes from the Chief Deputy are accurate, it’s quite a contrast in reactions — “criminal mischief” vs. “racist hate crime.” Which of those people sounds more rational to you?

      • corkingiron said, on January 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm

        “One of these things is not like the other….”

    • Andy Hall said, on January 25, 2012 at 8:34 am

      Under the Texas Penal Code, “criminal mischief” is a very broad property crime. It encompasses damage or defacement, but also obscuring, denial of access or use, and other stuff. It’s a catch-all.

      The more critical question, if this case were to be prosecuted as such, is the value of the damage done. Criminal Mischief can be a Class C, B, or A misdemeanor, or in cases where the damage is greater than $20K, a state jail felony. I haven’t seen any claim in this case of actual, physical damage done to the billboard, so maybe the cost of bringing out a bucket truck and operator to take it down may be the only “damage” applicable in this case. We’ll see.

  3. Andy Hall said, on January 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Let’s stay on topic, okay?

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