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Ole Miss police advise people to avoid weekend rallies

The Ole Miss police chief asked people on Monday to stay away from areas of campus this weekend where rallies will be taking place in support of Confederate symbols. The letter was sent to Ole Miss faculty, staff and students.

This comes after it was discovered a group out of Memphis called Confederate 901 plan to hold a march that will begin at the Square at 1 p.m. and conclude at the Circle on the Ole Miss campus around 2 p.m. The rally is schedule to last until 5 p.m. on Saturday.

“Our highest priority is to maintain a safe campus environment, and the University Police Department has worked with local and state law enforcement agencies in preparation for these events,”the statement from UPD chief Ray Hawkins read.

There will be an ‘elevated law-enforcement presence’ on the march route, including both on and off campus to assist in keeping the community safe per the statement.

Confederate 901’s reasoning behind the rally is due to the call for Confederate monuments on campus and on the Square to be taken down in recent years. In response to the pro=Confederate rally there is going to be an ‘Anti-Confederate Counter Rally’ taking place at the same time as Confederate 901 is holding theirs.

The group holding the counter rally posted on the event’s Facebook page it will be a ‘peaceful protest’ and will ‘not tolerate violence or provocations of violence.’

“The best thing you can do to help keep our campus safe is to stay away from this area of campus on Saturday, February 23,” the statement continued to read. “Your cooperation and support allow us to perform our jobs in the best possible way.”

The university is holding a Community Conversation on Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Union Ballroom regarding this weekend’s planned events. Speakers who will be in attendance at the conversation include Dr. Brandi Hephner LeBlanc, vice chancellor for student affairs; Dr. Neal Hutchens, chair and professor of higher education in the School of Education; UPD police chief Ray Hawkins and Dr. Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement.