UPDATE 8/21/2017 -- A seven-member advisory committee will help Mayor Kasim Reed decide what to do about Atlanta’s “Confederate-themed” statues and street names.
The Atlanta City Council on Monday passed a resolution giving Reed authority to name four members to the committee while the Council names three members. The Council also agreed to allow the committee to appoint ad hoc members -- historians, residents and others -- but they will not have voting privileges.
The city is trying to decide whether to remove Confederate statues and rename streets for those fighting for the south in the Civil War or related themes.
Reed has said he hopes to have a decision made in 60 days, but the Council’s resolution added an additional 10 days to add flexibility as the November election of a new mayor, Council president and Council members nears.
ORIGINAL STORY: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he will pull together a group of leaders to help him decide how to address growing calls to remove Confederate statues and rename streets bearing Confederate monikers.
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“Over the next 60 days, we are going to take a thoughtful approach to any Confederate-themed monuments or street names,” Reed said Thursday. “I want people to know that I heard their concerns loudly and clearly.”
Atlanta residents have petitioned the city to rename roads such as Confederate Avenue and Stonewall Street as municipalities across the country grapple with objections to memorializing the nation’s painful Civil War past. Several cities, including Lexington, Ky., have decided to remove monuments to Confederate leaders such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, despite threats by neo-Nazi, white nationalists and KKK groups that they will march in protest.
Baltimore’s mayor removed several Confederate monuments overnight earlier this week after the City Council unanimously signed off on taking them down.
A city spokeswoman said Atlanta’s Confederate-themed monuments include The Lion of the Confederacy statue in Oakland Park (erected in 1894), the Confederate Obelisk Monument in Oakland Cemetery(1874), the Peace Monument in Piedmont Park (1911), the Sidney Lanier Bust in Piedmont Park and at Oglethorpe University (1915), the Henry Grady Monument on Marietta Street (1889) and the General Walker Monument on Glenwood Avenue.
Some of the streets under consideration include Confederate Avenue in Grant Park, Stonewall Street near Northside Drive and English Avenue, which was named for former Atlanta Mayor and Civil War soldier James English.
Reed also on Thursday decried President Donald Trump’s responses to last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va.
“I think that President Trump’s response has been a national and international embarrassment,” Reed said Thursday, two days after the president gave an impromptu press conference on the deadly protests. “I thought that it was one of the most sad days of many sad days of a presidency that is disastrous for our country.”
Charlottesville paralegal Heather Heyer died and 19 people were injured after being struck last Saturday by a car allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr., who was seen attending a “Unite the Right” demonstration of neo-Nazis, white nationalists and members of the KKK in Charlottesville.
Many people, including Republican leaders, accused Trump of sending mixed messages on his reaction to the violence. Initially the president said that both the “Unite the Right” demonstrators and counter protesters shared the blame on Saturday. He seemed, however, to focus more on the neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Klan members on Monday.
But on Tuesday, he forcefully said again that both demonstrators and counter protesters were to blame and accused the media of ignoring unrest caused by the so-called “alt-left.”
Reed said Trump created the term “alt-left” to push a false equivalency and that he failed to support Heyer as well as two Virginia State Police officers — H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates — who lost their lives when the helicopter they were in to monitor the rally crashed.
He said Trump failed when he tried “to be even-handed when there is clearly a right and a wrong side.”