Like other officials across the country, the mayor of San Diego this week rushed to evict a Confederate-friendly monument from public property. The plaque removed from Horton Plaza has company: A memorial to Confederate soldiers stands over their graves under an American flag at the historic city-owned Mt. Hope Cemetery.

The city “does not endorse Confederate symbols of division,” a spokesman said Thursday, so the plaque in Horton Plaza had to go. But an organization called the Daughters of the Confederacy owns the land under the Mt. Hope monument, and the city’s hands appear to be tied. “Unlike a marking in a public plaza,” the spokesman said, “this is on a private cemetery plot.”

The Mt. Hope memorial, which has an engraving that says it’s dedicated to the “Confederate Veterans and Their Wives Herein Buried,” appears to be larger than the Confederate memorial that the Daughters of the Confederacy chose to remove from a Hollywood cemetery on Wednesday. That decision came after the L.A. monument sparked outrage, vandalism and hundreds of petition signatures demanding its removal.

In recent days, other Confederate monuments have been vandalized, torn down and covered up in the wake of the Virginia tragedy sparked by a protest against the removal of a Charlottesville, Va., statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Supporters of the monuments, including the president, claim they’re historic treasures. Critics note that they honor traitors who fought to preserve slavery.

Civil War Veterans Buried Here by the Hundreds

San Diego played a tiny role in the Civil War, but hundreds of veterans on both sides came here to live and are buried in local cemeteries.

The Daughters of the Confederacy’s San Diego chapter, which was created and named after General Stonewall Jackson in 1901, bought Mt. Hope plots in 1905 and erected a memorial in 1948. Members of the local chapter purchased plots and paid for the burial of many indigent soldiers at the turn of the 20th century and beyond, said Scarlett Stahl, president of the California division of the Daughters of the Confederacy organization, in an interview.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

The Mt. Hope memorial highlights the chapter’s name and features emblems of the organization. “The marker is a memorial marker for the dead buried around it and not a Confederate monument,” Stahl said. Nearby gravestones mark the graves of Confederate veterans. Some note their military units in the “C.S.A” (Confederate States of America) and display Confederate emblems.

The local Stonewall Jackson chapter still exists and had an extensive website until several pages from it were removed Wednesday. One of the pages celebrated the recent return to Horton Plaza of a plaque that honored San Diego as the terminus of the 1920s “Jefferson Davis Highway.”

Legislator Opposes ‘Disturbing the Dead’

Mayor Kevin Faulconer ordered the Horton Plaza plaque removed on Wednesday hours after local legislator Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher and Councilman Chris Ward, who represents downtown, became aware of its existence. Gonzalez Fletcher earlier spearheaded the successful move to change the name of San Diego’s Robert E. Lee Elementary School.

“I’m not for taking down individual tombstones or disturbing the dead,” said Gonzalez Fletcher of the Mt. Hope monument. “What I am opposed to is the public honoring of individuals through naming of schools and highway and the placing of plaques and statues in town squares given their leadership in a pro-slavery army in a treasonous war.”

She also noted the American flag at the Mt. Hope monument, calling it “a nice ironic touch” in light of the South’s mission to detach itself from the United States.

U.S. Flag Flies Over Confederate Graves

Flags are a touchy issue for the Daughters of the Confederacy. The May 2016 newsletter of the organization’s California division includes an item titled “How Confederate Are Your Meetings?” that urges members to remember to say a pledge and salute a Confederate flag when they get together. “If you are in a restaurant where you don’t want ‘trouble,’ use a very small 1st Nat’l. flag — there’s no point to pushing this issue only to be asked to NOT hold your meeting there. (Happened to SCV Camp 302 at Mimi’s, San Diego, in Feb).”

Confederate monuments are in the spotlight even at the private Hollywood Forever cemetery in Los Angeles, best known as the permanent home of dozens of departed celebrities. A recent L.A. Times commentary drew attention to its 1925 granite monument, which sat in Hollywood Forever’s Confederate veteran section, and the cemetery began to receive messages demanding its removal.

A chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy chose to remove the statue, said a representative who decried both white supremacists and Black Lives Matter to the L.A. Times. A cemetery representative told the paper that “it was thought that it would become impossible for us to maintain an atmosphere of tranquility, harmony and inclusion… with the monument present here.”

Mt. Hope Cemetery: City-Owned, City-Run and a Bit Unusual

At 110 acres near Interstate 15 and Market Street, San Diego’s 148-year-old Mt. Hope Cemetery is home to politicians, merchants and local icons with names like Horton, Marston and Sessions. The cemetery sits in Mt. Hope, one of the neighborhoods in San Diego’s historically black southeastern section.

The cemetery is unusual in a few ways. Most notably, Mt. Hope is a city-owned and city-run cemetery that serves many low-income residents.

Some local cemeteries, especially in North County, are run by government agencies that are allowed to levy taxes on the community. A city-owned cemetery like Mt. Hope is rare in California, although it was more common decades ago.

Mt. Hope has other distinctions. It’s home to “Our Lady of Shoes,” a Mexican statue of a seated woman who holds footwear and has cleat patterns in her hair. She sits at a plot where migrants are anonymously buried, set there as a memorial to those foreign dead. The cemetery also has its own “tombstone graveyard.”

    This article relates to: News

    Written by Randy Dotinga

    Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

    10 comments
    Al Allen
    Al Allen

    Here we go again. This monument has been there for decades with not one problem. Suddenly our mentally weakest generation, Generation Snow Flake suddenly discovers it and can't handle it. Clutching their smart phone close to their chest they run to their safe space, cower in the dark, the glow from their phone blocks the Dark Side from entering.


    Decades ago comedian George Carlin had an answer for people like Generation Snow Flake who could not handle the real world. If you do not like a TV program, change the channel. If you do not like a radio program, change the station. It is all about choices. If you can't handle something you have a personal problem. Not the country. 


    Now Generation Snow Flake actually thinks every National Park to the Civil War must be bulldozed over. Remove everything related to the Civil War so they will not feel threatened. 


    Next on their hit list is all the Washington DC monuments to our slave owning presidents. Also want their likeness taken off all our currency. Government to design new "Safe Currency" and recall all the "Bad Currency." 


    When is enough, enough?

    Erik Anderson
    Erik Anderson

    Being remembered by family members in a cemetery is a lot different than putting them on a pedestal in the middle of town. Let it go.

    Jerry Hall
    Jerry Hall subscribermember

    Here's a petition to have this monument removed: https://www.change.org/p/mayor-faulconer-remove-the-confederate-monument-from-mount-hope-cemetery?recruiter=552833282&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition All the copy is also below. Share if you can.

    Memorials honoring a war that killed 1.1 million Americans who fought in large part for and against oppressing black slaves, should not be located in an area owned and maintained by all citizens of San Diego, including descendants of the the very people the monument celebrates enslaving, oppressing, and terrorizing. 

    The cemetery plots this site sits upon were purchased in 1905 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) likely to bury area CSA soldiers who subsequently passed away as the war ended just 40 years earlier.


    When the monument was built in 1948, it seems like a similar reaction to one that is documented happening around the country. That is, memorials placed by white-only groups in response to freedoms and liberties being realized by black Americans.  


    When this memorial was placed over 40 years from it's purchase, it happened to be a such a time, when America was finally waking up and addressing it's unfair treatment of black Americans. Here's what happened just before and the next two decades after this monument was installed: 

    1946 - Supreme Court rules segregation on buses crossing state lines illegal.
    1948 - Discrimination in the armed forces was banned.
    1952 - First year since 1881 without a known lynching.
    1954 - Supreme Court declares segregation in schools unconstitutional.
    1955 - Rosa Parks arrested for riding a bus. Montgomery Bus Boycott began.
    1957 - Federal troops protect black students terrorized at Little Rock High School.
    1960 - First student sit-ins against segregation at lunch counters occurs.
    1961 - Freedom Riders in the South arrests begin.
    1962 - Federal troops protect James Meredith’s attending Mississippi University.
    1963 - Medgar Evers, NAACP assassinated. Four black girls killed in church bombing.
    1964 - Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress. Dr. King awarded Noble Peace Prize.
    1965 - Malcolm X was assassinated. Voting Rights Act illegal to restrict right to vote.
    1966 - Black Power idea introduced by Stokely Carmichael.
    1967 - Supreme Court allows inter-racial marriage.
    1968 - Martin Luther King was assassinated.


    In other words, this monument was built before blacks could get on a bus and cross state lines, serve in the military, go to public schools and universities, or be treated equally under the law, and tens of thousands of other injustices. Many whites, especially the ones that fought against the Union Army did not see blacks as human, much less equal.


    Yet, all of these things happened more than 50 years ago! Yet today, we still see our fellow human beings treated unfairly, discriminated against, overly-incarcerated... the list is long. 

    Meanwhile, some people like the monument's 'owners' want us to believe that this is a sentimental reminder of a forgotten time. They likely prefer we go back to not just 50 years ago, but 150 years ago, a thought that would return America to a time that would oppress a group of fellow Americans - over their skin color. 

    And to top it off, the monument sits in a park maintained by and paid for by all city taxpayers - black, white, and brown.


    In essence San Diego is asking - no, telling - black San Diegans that they need to pay for a monument that supports their being slaves - honoring their being bought, sold, beaten, raped, terrorized, an entire heritage ruined. All because that's what some people believed 150 years ago. 


    This monument is inappropriate. It should not sit on public land. It should not be paid for by black, brown or white San Diegans who care.  We The People includes the word 'We' for a reason. It's not 'I the Person' intentionally, nor 'We The Slave Owners'. 


    We The People must look past our history and at today. How are we personally and as a community acting and treating others, honoring others, respecting others? Are we being fair? Do we have a city that is truly inclusive or one in name only? 


    I do not believe we are the racists many have been in the past. I believe we should have this monument removed from public land and not force black American citizens to pay for a monument that celebrates their torture. 

    That's the America I know and love. How about you?

    John Scanlon
    John Scanlon subscriber

    @Jerry Hall


    Mr. Hall:

    I submit this issue is not just black and white.  There’s grey in here with historical and current value. 

    Slavery was the transcendent issue, but there were two unjust causes in the war, the defense of slavery and forced union. 

    300,000 Confederates died in their fight for the right of secession.  Condemn their defense of slavery but not their defense of secession. 

    Today the world places too much value on the sovereign right of nations and insufficient value on the will of the people – the right of the people to self determination.  America’s militarist leaders refuse to recognize the right of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to secede from Georgia and the right of Crimea to secede from Ukraine.  Instead of demanding UN supervised plebiscites to settle these issues, they rattle their sabers. 

    See a related article on the battleflag and the black liberation flag at:  https://goo.gl/cE74kJ

    I support the battleflag, but given its racist tint, I would only fly it together with the black liberation flag. 

    Sincerely, John Scanlon jfscanlon@aol.com


    rhylton
    rhylton subscriber

    Fletcher's remark:"I’m not for taking down individual tombstones or disturbing the dead”  is silly -but its purpose is understood. The dead are dead and so they cannot be disturbed; their graves can but shouldn't'.


    I am "disturbed" by the hand-wringing hypocritical locals, politicians especially, who act now like they did not know that these memorials were here,  on city property or in public places. I will not be disturbed by future discoveries. San Diego is called the Mississippi of The West for various reasons. These monuments, and the sentiments that motivated their erection or installation, are a few of those reasons.

    barb graham
    barb graham subscriber

    One activist had a brilliant solution. She put up a '2nd Place' sign on a confederate monument.

    "Losers" would also apply. They were traitors to the nation. We shouldn't forget that.

    philip piel
    philip piel subscriber

    @barb graham Too bad the Democrats won't subscribe to the same philosophy, 2nd place and all...

    philip piel
    philip piel subscriber

    Let's hope the anti-war folks don't get riled up and bulldoze our National Cemeteries, when are we going to get rid of that adulterous, drug addict JFK's statues?

    philip piel
    philip piel subscriber

    @barb graham @philip piel


    Don't kid yourself Babs, "the same thing" is objective and is decided by the political flavor of the day. I'm sure there are many that feel Union supporters were traitors. The concept of a Federal entity dictating to states how they legislate was groundbreaking at the time with the conflict being about more issues than slavery.

    There are many that feel Iraq was a war for oil, Vietnam was about killing babies...what happens when the consensus is monuments to those wars are offensive? What happens when the Religious right goes after past heroes / elected officials who were morally suspect?

    I understand certain political views / movements rely on various forms of victim status and the ability to explain their failure to achieve but at what point do we move on? At what point do we recognize the past, celebrate the present and work on the future?