Half of a mile. That’s all Unique Dunston said she wants. She wants to see a Confederate monument and Confederate flag moved a half of a mile down the road to Albertville’s Civil War Cemetery.
Daniel Sims said he wants area residents to remember the history associated with the monument and for the monument and flag to stay where they are.
Both have large groups of followers who meet at the Marshall County Courthouse in Albertville regularly to bring attention to their quests.
Sunday, the groups met relatively peacefully until Albertville Police arrested a Confederate supporter for harassment after she allegedly threatened Dunston with bodily harm. Jessica Lynn Fry, 38, of Albertville was arrested and later released from the Albertville City Jail after posting a $500 bond.
Members of Reclaiming Our Time group, led by Dunston, said Sunday is not the first time they have been taunted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans group and other supporters.
However, Sims alleges Reclaiming Our Time members protested last Wednesday at the courthouse, even though it was Veterans Day. He claims members of the group went so far as to climb on a monument and dance on it in a display he calls “disrespectful.”
“They have been very rude and disrespectful,” Sims said. “I gave a direct order to my group not to come to the protest Wednesday out of respect for veterans.
“We’ve dealt with this for the past seven or eight months. We’ve tried to be peaceful.
“After their actions Wednesday, we couldn’t stand back and let it go on.”
Dunston said she feels the protests, sit-ins at the Marshall County Courthouse in Guntersville and marches she has organized have brought attention to the memorial and the fact some in the area also want to see the monument moved.
“I think we are accomplishing our goals,” Dunston said. “The goal is to have our voices be heard and us be represented in this red county.”
She said she will continue to seek support from Albertville city leaders and City Council members as well as the Marshall County Commission.
“I have faith that our city will be on our side,” Dunston said. “It will take some time, but I think they will come around and encourage the county to move the monument.”
She said moving the monument to the Civil War Cemetery is the most obvious and simple solution.
“The city museum has said they don’t want it as part of the museum,” Dunston said. “Moving it to the cemetery is the right thing.”
Sims said a new fence will be installed surrounding the monument to keep it safe and keep people from climbing on it in future.
Sims, who often is seen at the protests wearing camo pants and sporting a bulletproof vest, maintains there is bounty out for his life. He maintains the outfit is a matter of safety, not a way to inflame the protests.
“I have to wear the vest,” Sims said. “I have a bounty on me for $500,000 to have me killed. I take that seriously.”
Sunday, Dunston’s supporters were outnumbered 3 to 1. Regardless of the disparity in numbers, her supporters weren’t intimidated.
“We came out to support the cause,” said a counterprotester known only as “Buck.” He said he’s taken part in several protests and marches — including one in June in Huntsville where police used tear gas to disperse the crowd — and has been the target of racial and homophobic slurs.
“I was in the Army for 2 ½ years,” Buck said. “I am not intimidated at all.
“At one time, I was a Trump supporter. But I have learned more about him and can’t believe I was ever one of his supporters.”
River Keith, another counterprotester, said knowing historical facts makes a difference.
“If you are on the right side of history, there is no reason to feel intimidated,” Keith said.
Dunston said even though holidays and cold weather are around the corner, she plans to continue holding informational gatherings, protests and other events.
“We will do some type of protests until we get results,” Dunston said.
Sims said he will work to keep the monument right where it stands, as a matter of pride.
“I have family and friends that have lost blood for this,” he said. “People are willing to live and die for tradition … me included.”