Decatur’s Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne made it clear recently the city doesn’t want the controversial Confederate monument behind the historic courthouse removed to its cemetery.
The 30-foot obelisk, erected in 1908, has been under siege since the August clash in Charlottesville, Virginia. A number of organizations have asked for the monument’s removal from the town square.
In a legal opinion given in early December, DeKalb County Attorney O.V. Brantley said the county government owns both the landmark and the land it resides on. Although prohibited from removing it from “public view,” the opinion concludes the monument could be moved to a cemetery, museum or other property.
Decatur’s cemetery, one of the state’s oldest municipal graveyards, has been a popular choice as a potential destination.
Not with the city, however.
“We’ve never wanted it moved to the cemetery,” Menne said. “The city’s position, it is county property and we don’t want it in the city-owned cemetery. The county needs to decide.”
The cemetery, which dates to the 1820s, covers 45 acres and has more than 18,000 graves. The truth is, Menne said, there’s practically no room for the monument. Almost all the perceived open space is actually unmarked graves that have been identified by ground penetration.
Though Confederate soldiers are buried throughout, there is no specific section for the Rebel dead. Further, African American graves are scattered over the grounds, including those born into slavery.
“There’s no place you could put [the monument],” she said, “where it wouldn’t offend somebody.”