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As tension mounts over Confederate memorial, local NAACP leader suggests covering it

Supporter Steve Stepanek of St. Louis waves his Confederate flag at the Confederate Statue in Forest Park on June 3, 2017, in St. Louis.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI
Supporter Steve Stepanek of St. Louis waves his Confederate flag at the Confederate Statue in Forest Park on Saturday in St. Louis.

Tensions are high after more than a week of demonstrations and counter protests over whether to remove the Confederate memorial in Forest Park.

A rally at the monument Saturday featured both shouting matches and moments of dialogue.

The event was organized by Peggy Hubbard, a black woman who wants the monument to stay.

“I started this rally to bring us together. There are people here that do not want America to stand. They don’t believe in what you believe in. They don’t believe in what I believe in,” said Hubbard to her supporters.

On the outskirts of the crowd, people with opposing views like Cat Daniels, who wants the memorial removed, and Brendan Koch, who wants it to stay, shared their thoughts with each other.

“I stand up for the rights of the individual,” said Koch.

“Absolutely. And I agree with you there. So we may agree more than we disagree,” Daniels replied.

But lots of angry words and ugly names were also thrown back and forth, and altercations led to at least one arrest.

The repeated conflict inspired the president of the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP to call for scaffolding to cover the Confederate memorial.

After witnessing the heavy police presence at the monument Saturday, Adolphus Pruitt sent a letter to Mayor Lyda Krewson asking the city to build the scaffolding.

Pruitt said people would be less likely to protest if the monument is out of sight. He said that would free up police to protect neighborhoods, which he considers a better use of resources.

“The only reason they’re here is it is there and it is visible. The city has committed to removing it. So it is going to go,” Pruitt said.

In a statement, the mayor said she expects to remove the memorial soon, but will “seriously consider” covering the monument if that doesn’t happen.

Rachel Lippmann contributed to this report.

Follow Camille on Twitter: @cmpcamille