Ellis County

Ellis County Constable's Office Moved to Basement, Near Segregation-Era Sign

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Questions are being raised about why the office of a Black constable in Ellis County was relocated to a basement near a sign from the era of segregation.

County officials said the move was not racially motivated but some critics call it an "embarrassment."

Born and raised in Waxahachie, Ellis County Constable Curtis Polk Jr. knows the area by heart.

At the historic courthouse, Polk said he's always known a sign with the word "Negroes" on it existed in the basement but never had to see it like he does now.

“It’s demoralizing. This last week-and-a-half, it’s been a frustrating time for me,” Polk said.

Last week, Polk's office was relocated to the basement of the old courthouse to make room for more county departments to move in.

“I guess I ended up with the short end of the stick, so I had to move into the office with two sheriff’s deputies,” he said.

Polk said his new office is so small he has to store sensitive documents in a stairwell next door in the same room with the sign which he's now forced to see every day.

“It had hurt me so bad that I thought about stepping away from the constable’s office, find a job doing something else,” Polk said.

In a prerecorded statement, Ellis County Judge Todd Little said the sign used to be near a water fountain.

Little said county commissioners decided to keep it 20 years ago and added a plaque for context.

“The plaque presented with this historical marker challenges us to continue to learn from our past,” Little said.

Tuesday, a Facebook page for Ellis County Democrats demanded county leaders apologize to Polk and “ensure this kind of embarrassment never occurs again.”

Little said the decision to relocate Polk's office was based on “logic and the availability of space, not on malice or any other subjective information.”

Polk said he agrees.

“I wasn't raised like that and I try to give people the benefit of the doubt,” Polk said.

He said his biggest issue is being the only elected official in Ellis County without a private office.

“I believe we are all equal and I believe we should all be treated equal,” Polk said.

Little said the move was only temporary, though it is unclear how long it will last.

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