Johns Creek considers law to stop cemetery vandalism

A February photo of Johns Creek's Historical Society president Joan Compton (R) and Johns Creek's Historical Society Board Member Kirk Canaday looking over a headstone at the Macedonia Cemetery. Johns Creek officials are considering a law, at the urging of Canaday, to punish cemetery vandalism.  STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Caption
A February photo of Johns Creek's Historical Society president Joan Compton (R) and Johns Creek's Historical Society Board Member Kirk Canaday looking over a headstone at the Macedonia Cemetery. Johns Creek officials are considering a law, at the urging of Canaday, to punish cemetery vandalism. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Johns Creek officials are considering a law to stop vandalism and desecration of gravesites in local cemeteries.

Council members Erin Elwood, Chris Coughlin and Stephanie Endres are bringing the ordinance forward at the urging of resident Kirk Canaday who has complained to the city about trash and destruction at Macedonia African Methodist Church Cemetery.

“There have been a lot of (past) issues related to that area being subjected to vandalism,” Endres said during a Monday meeting. “... Mr. Canaday, he sent us a lot of information about recent events.”

Johns Creek is in the process of purchasing the two-acre cemetery property through eminent domain. The city has maintained the cemetery, located at the top of a hill behind Medlock Corners shopping center, since 2017.

Canaday told The Atlanta Journal Constitution Tuesday some headstones are broken and pieces are scattered throughout the cemetery.

The retiree is a board member of Johns Creek Historical Society and leading a preservation project at the Macedonia cemetery. The oldest marked grave is dated 1893 and the historical society reports at least 110 unmarked graves are believed to be at the site. Many are of people who were born into enslavement, according to the historical society.

The new law would address defacing burial sites at all Johns Creek cemeteries as well as tampering with flowers or plants without permission. Maximum penalties per incident would be $1,000 or six months in jail.

City Council is scheduled to vote on the measure June 21.