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DeKalb CEO to discuss ‘pending removal’ of Confederate monument

061720 Decatur: Local residents and protesters hold a rally calling on DeKalb County to follow a judge’s order to “swiftly” remove the Confederate monument from Decatur Square on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, in Decatur. 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. 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.    Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
061720 Decatur: Local residents and protesters hold a rally calling on DeKalb County to follow a judge’s order to “swiftly” remove the Confederate monument from Decatur Square on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, in Decatur. 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. 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. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Thurmond calls Friday morning press conference to discuss Decatur obelisk
ExploreUPDATE: The Confederate monument in downtown Decatur has been removed.

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond has called a Friday morning press conference to discuss the “pending removal” of the Confederate monument on the Decatur square.

Thurmond and the county have said little about the 30-foot obelisk since last week, when DeKalb Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger declared the monument to be a public nuisance that should be removed and placed in storage. Seeliger gave the county until June 26 to fulfill his order but encouraged officials to take the monument down as soon as possible.

ExplorePREVIOUS COVERAGE: Hundreds rally for quick removal of Decatur’s Confederate monument

The obelisk, which sits just outside the historic DeKalb County courthouse, was erected in 1908 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It has been divisive for several years, with attention flaring up following the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and again in recent weeks, amid nationwide protests over racism and police violence against black Americans.

On June 10, with the obelisk becoming an increasingly frequent target for protests and vandalism, the city of Decatur filed a complaint against DeKalb County, which technically owns the monument.

The complaint did not directly challenge Georgia laws that make it extremely difficult for local jurisdictions to remove or relocate Confederate monuments. It focused instead on a separate code section that allows local judges to address property deemed to be a public nuisance.

Seeliger granted the city’s motion — which was not opposed by the county — and ordered the monument be taken down.

Local groups Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, Hate Free Decatur and other activists organized a rally Wednesday night, urging county officials to stop dragging their feet. Hundreds attended and chanted “Not June 26th, but now.”

The Georgia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, meanwhile, has threatened to take legal action to try and stop the monument’s removal. As of early Thursday afternoon, the group had not taken any such action.