Vote seeks removal of Confederate monument in Decatur

7:00 p.m Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 Atlanta News

The DeKalb County Commission voted Tuesday to attempt to move a 109-year-old monument honoring the Confederacy.

If successful, the county could be one of the first communities in Georgia to expel a Confederate monument.

The resolution, approved on an 6-1 vote, orders the county’s attorneys to find a legal way to remove or relocate the 30-foot obelisk located outside the former county courthouse in Decatur. 

State law prohibits such monuments from being “relocated, removed, concealed, obscured, or altered in any fashion,” but governments are allowed to take action to preserve or protect monuments. The resolution notes that the monument has been recently vandalized twice.

Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Supporters of removing a Confederate monument from Decatur stand in support of a speaker during public comment at the DeKalb County Commission. The commission is expected to vote to explore removing the monument. The vote wouldn't remove the monument immediately; rather, it would start an investigation into potential loopholes in state law allowing the county to take action. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

The county government will try to determine if it actually owns the monument, then explore how it can be moved.

The monument glorifies the Confederacy and says its soldiers “were of a covenant keeping race,” according to the resolution.

Several residents from the group Hate Free Decatur praised the board’s vote, saying the monument symbolizes oppression of black Americans and has no place in the middle of town. They want it moved to a museum or cemetery.

One resident, retired high school history teacher Chris Billingsley, opposed the resolution because he said the monument honors soldiers’ sacrifices during the Civil War.

DeKalb Commissioner Nancy Jester cast the only vote against the resolution. She said monuments should be put in their historical context instead of being moved.

KEITH HADLEY/AJC staff
DEKALB CONFEDERATE MONUMENT (DeKalb County Courthouse/Decatur Square): This obelisk was built in 1908, long before there was a Decatur Square built up around it. In fact, the courthouse next to it burned to the ground in 1916 and was replaced by the structure that we see today. In the 1970s, the construction of the Marta line further changed the surrounding landscape and in doing so, created the Decatur Square that we know today. The monument has often looked out of place as Decatur has become one of the more liberal environments in the state, and residents are currently petitioning for its removal. (Keith Hadley / AJC file)
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