According to a Tennessee appels court, the new trial will be opened for a Black man found guilty of Aggravated Assault by an All-White Jury that met in a room with Confederate memorabilia and symbols.
After his 2020 trial arising from a domestic conflict, Tim Gilbert (55) was sentenced to 6 years prison. According to Gilbert, the racism in the Giles County Courthouse at Pulaski violated Tim’s constitutional right to fair trials with impartial jurors, due process, and equal protection. court documents.
A unanimous appeals court ruled Friday that Gilbert’s room in the United Daughters of the Confederacy was not prejudicial.
“U.D.C. Room” is reportedly painted on the door to the room, and there is a Confederate flag on the door’s window. On the wall opposite the entry is a Confederate battle flag. Portraits of Confederate officials are displayed, along with portraits including Jefferson Davis, president of Confederacy. The portrait is labeled “President Jefferson Davis,” according to the court documents.
In his court opinion, Judge James Curwood Witt Jr. stated that Confederate symbols were racist because of the Confederacy’s political ideas. Witt’s opinion reversed a 2020 lower court ruling that denied Gilbert’s request for a new trial.
Witt cited the Confederacy’s various Articles of Secession and its stated belief that Confederate states have the right to hold Black people in chattel slavery.
“These documents not only defended slavery, but endorsed it fully using dehumanizing and racist language,” Witt said. “These documents establish that slavery and the subjugation of black people are inextricably intertwined with the Confederacy and the symbols thereof. Such ideals, however, are antithetical to the American system of jurisprudence and cannot be tolerated.”
The court further scrutinized how the room’s decoration came to be. A framed letter on the wall states that the room has been a “UDC room” since the 1930s and that the door’s UDC emblem and inscription were added in 2005 at the UDC’s expense. The county’s grand jury foreman also testified that the room has remained in the same condition since he first undertook that duty 14 years ago, according to the court documents.
“When a government creates or permits the creation of a permanent display by a private organization, it has engaged in government speech,” Witt said of the matter.
A website for the United Daughters of the Confederacy states that the organization “totally denounces any individual or group that promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy” and that it is “saddened that some people find anything connected with the Confederacy to be offensive.”
“Our Confederate ancestors were and are Americans. We as an Organization do not sit in judgment of them nor do we impose the standards of the 19th century on Americans of the 21st century,” the group’s website states.
A representative with the organization and the courthouse did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on Monday.
The appeals court also ruled that the trial court made a mistake of allowing a challenged witness statement to be used in Gilbert’s trial over whether he fired a gun at a family member’s moving vehicle during a 2018 dispute.
The court’s ruling follows the removal of numerous Confederate symbols across the U.S., including after the 2020 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.
The bust, which included a Confederate General and an Early Ku Klux Klan Leader, was taken this past summer removed from Tennessee’s Capitol After decades of demonstrations and protests against its 1978 installation, it was finally approved in 1978.
Similar monuments are being demolished elsewhere in the nation, such as at the U.S. Capitol. voted in JuneIt is necessary to take down monuments honoring key supporters of slavery or white supremacy.