Decatur rally to call on DeKalb to ‘swiftly’ remove Confederate obelisk

Protesters made a temporary alteration to the Confederate monument in Decatur Square on June 3 in Decatur. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Protesters made a temporary alteration to the Confederate monument in Decatur Square on June 3 in Decatur. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Decatur residents are set to rally on Wednesday and call on DeKalb County to follow a judge’s order to “swiftly” remove the Confederate monument from Decatur Square.

The Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights planned the gathering for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the square.

“It is past time for city and county leaders to do what needs to be done, take bold and decisive action, and remove all these symbols of white supremacy,” Beacon Hill Black Alliance board member Fonta High said in a statement.

In an order issued Friday afternoon, DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger said the monument to the Confederacy in the square should be relocated by midnight on June 26.

Seeliger issued the order in response to a complaint that Decatur's city attorney filed against DeKalb. The city argued that the 30-foot obelisk had become a threat to public safety during recent protests about racism and police violence toward black people. Seeliger's order says the monument should be placed into storage until further notice.

The monument to the Confederacy sits behind the old courthouse on the Decatur Square. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
The monument to the Confederacy sits behind the old courthouse on the Decatur Square. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

The Beacon Hill Black Alliance said it was “encouraged” by Seeliger’s ruling and planned the rally to “urge DeKalb County to move ahead swiftly with the removal plans” for the “Lost Cause” monument.

DeKalb County officials have not responded to inquiries from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week about a potential timeline for removing the monument.

Local groups like Hate Free Decatur and the Beacon Hill Black Alliance have been pushing for the monument to be taken down since the deadly events of the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

DeKalb officials have tried for years to find ways to get rid of the obelisk, but Georgia state law makes it extremely difficult for local governments to relocate or remove Confederate monuments.

But Seeliger’s order references a more general section of state law that allows local judges to address public nuisances that are “manifestly injurious to the public health or safety.”

The obelisk memorializing the Confederacy was installed in 1908 and suggests the cause of the Civil War surrounded states' rights. Last year, the county put a contextual marker next to the monument stating that the true cause of the Civil War was slavery, and that the obelisk is a symbol of white supremacy, segregation and intimidation.

Staff reporter Tyler Estep contributed to this report.

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