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Petition to remove Confederate memorial in Decatur nears 2,000 signatures, discussion planned

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Petition to remove Confederate memorial in Decatur nears 2,000 signatures, discussion planned

The monument in downtown Decatur. Photo provided to Decaturish
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The monument in downtown Decatur. Photo provided to Decaturish

A petition to remove a Confederate memorial on the Decatur square is nearing 2,000 signatures.

This Saturday evening, Aug. 19, there will be a discussion held around the monument to discuss plans for its removal. The event starts at 8 p.m. While at least commenter on the event’s Facebook page has suggested using the gathering to tear the monument down, organizer Hannah Hill said that’s not the intent.

“Please know that the organizers of the discussion to not condone illegal activity or violence,” she told the commenter.

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She has also said all perspectives are welcome at Saturday’s event.

State law prohibits the removal of such monuments and the prospects for changing it in a Republican-controlled Legislature don’t seem likely. However, the state law says local governments can take  “appropriate measures for the preservation, protection, and interpretation of such monuments.”

The monument is owned by DeKalb County. Petition organizers are suggesting elected officials move the monument from the square to protect it from vandalism.

“Recent acts against confederate memorials in Piedmont Park and Durham, North Carolina give DeKalb County clear justification to use this ‘appropriate measures’ provision to relocate the Decatur confederate monument,” the organizers said.

The monument is located by the old DeKalb County courthouse and was constructed in 1908. It is widely seen as a symbol of the Jim Crow era south, a not-so subtle message to black residents who would question the status quo. Calls to remove the monument have grown louder following white supremacist violence over a similar monument in Charlottesville, Va that resulted in the deaths of three people.

City leaders have said they are listening petitioners and talking about how to move forward on their request, and state Sen. Elena Parent said she would support a bill to change state law to allow communities to decide for themselves whether these monuments are appropriate.

That’s not the only event planned. On Aug. 18, Friday, there will be a Atlanta Pro-Unity/Anti-Hate Mural Jam held at the Krog Street Tunnel. It begins at 5 p.m.

“Let’s send a message that hate will not be tolerated in our city! Come join us to paint a message to these despicable alt-right/neo-nazi fools,” the event announcement says. “Not an artist: no worries, Any level of skill welcome – We will provide about 70 cans of paint and about 10 gallons of various colors. Feel free to bring more – more paint means less chance for this to be ignored! Please bring extra brushes, rollers, and paint trays if you have them!”

The tunnel is located at 1 Krog St NE, Atlanta, GA 30307.

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