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Marion Square closes early Monday after protests surrounding Calhoun monument

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John C. Calhoun statue, located in Charleston's Marion Square. (WCIV)

Dueling protests took place on Monday evening in Charleston, as demonstrators rally for and against the impending removal of the John C. Calhoun monument.

Protesters gathered around 6 p.m. in Marion Square, the privately-owned park at the corner of King, Calhoun and Meeting streets where the Calhoun monument towers above Charleston's downtown landscape.

Around 7:45 p.m., Charleston Police said Marion Square had closed early for the evening and that it would be back open as normal at dawn on Tuesday.

Details of those arrested are forthcoming, authorities added.

The protest was planned in response to city of Charleston leaders declaring their intent to remove the statue and monument to Calhoun over his history as a white supremacist and a slavery advocate.


Some who want the statue to stay have said the Calhoun monument's removal would be akin to erasing history in deference to unfair pressure from progressive activists applying 21st century values to the 19th century politician's ideals without fully considering his contributions as a statesman for South Carolina.

Meanwhile, proponents of removing the memorial to Calhoun feel its continued presence only glorifies former Vice President and Senator Calhoun's ardent yet indefensible support of slavery at the highest levels of government, where he — a slave owner himself — argued it was a "positive good."

In 2017, Mayor John Tecklenburg said he did not support removing the Calhoun monument, or other controversial memorials in the city such as the Confederate Defenders of Fort Sumter monument along the Battery.

Instead, Tecklenburg proposed a compromise: affix plaques to some of the most divisive memorials in the city offering more context on the historical events and figures they commemorate.

Tecklenburg had the city's history commission draft language for a proposed plaque to be placed on the Calhoun monument, but when it came time for City Council members to vote on the proposal in early 2018, the idea sputtered and fell by the wayside.

Flash forward to last Thursday, when Mayor Tecklenburg announced City Council at its June 23 meeting will adopt a resolution formally calling for the relocation of the monument and statue to a museum or an academic institution. An exact place for relocation has not been specified, and the exact date of removal has not been announced.

Tecklenburg revealed during the public address the City of Charleston actually owns the Calhoun monument, which was gifted to the city by the owners of Marion Square, the Washington Light Infantry, in 1898.

Because of this and the fact the monument is not considered a war memorial protected by the state's Heritage Act, Tecklenburg said the city is within its rights to remove the monument from its current location, even though it's on private property.

On Monday night, attorney M. Richardson Hyman, Jr. released the following statement on the monument:

The Washington Light Infantry Sumter Guards Board of Officers has no ownership interest in the Calhoun Monument, and with assurances that the Board’s ownership and interest in Marion Square will not be impacted by the City’s anticipated removal of the statue, has no legal basis to challenge the City’s actions.

City council members told ABC News 4 prior to the mayor's announcement the resolution to relocate the Calhoun memorial likely has enough support from council to pass.

However, it would appear the mayor has authority to effect the removal on his own, telling a reporter Thursday the decision to have council vote on the resolution was aimed at demonstrating solidarity among city leaders.