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Gainesville man arrested after latest attack on Old Joe, a Confederate symbol in the downtown square
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People take to downtown Gainesville Sunday, May 31, 2020, on the second night of protests in Gainesville that blocked traffic and resulted in vandalism on the square. - photo by Scott Rogers

A symbol of a bygone era, Gainesville’s Old Joe was again thrust into modern-day protests Sunday night.

At about 9:40 p.m., “KKK” was spray painted on the statue, which sits in the middle of the downtown square. The statue is that of a Spanish-American War soldier that was modified and placed as a Confederate monument in 1909.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies took a man into custody after the incident. 

Tyler Dalton Moye, 24, of Gainesville, is charged with interference with government property, second-degree criminal damage to property and obstruction, according to the Sheriff’s Office, which reported Moye tried to run from deputies.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Derreck Booth said Moye had some sort of medical episode following his arrest. 

"At the request of deputies, a Hall County Fire Services med unit responded and assessed him before he was transported to jail," Booth said.

Moye remains at the Hall County Jail on $14,350 bond as of Monday afternoon, June 1.

The statue was cleaned by county crews before 3 a.m., according to the Sheriff's Office.

The incident was part of May 31 protests being held nationwide against police treatment of George Floyd, a black man who died last week after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes.

Local demonstrations mainly took place off Jesse Jewell Parkway at Main Street. At one point, the group streamed to the square.

After the vandalism took place, deputies quickly arrived and arrested Moye. The group then returned to Jesse Jewell, where there was little police presence.

The deputies, however, remained in place near Old Joe.

The statue has a long, polarizing history.

According to The Times’ records, the Confederate monument has been a target for relocation for one reason or another every couple of decades going back to at least the 1950s.

The issue most recently flared up in 2017, as Civil War monuments across the South were removed amid protests that they were lingering symbols of racism.

An August 2017 protest was held at Old Joe.

“We want to stand up against symbols of white supremacy in our community,” protest organizer Adam Staudacher said at the time.

Defenders of Old Joe specifically argue that the statue’s history in Gainesville, especially its survival of the 1936 tornado that obliterated much of the town, warrant his protection.

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