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Decatur considering agreement to add African American history display at the Square

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Decatur considering agreement to add African American history display at the Square

Decatur City Hall.
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Decatur City Hall.

This story has been updated. 

At its meeting on Monday, Decatur city commissioners will consider an agreement to honor African American history on the courthouse Square.

Mayor Patti Garrett confirmed that the agenda item is related to the Confederate monument on the Decatur Square, which has been in activists’ cross hairs for weeks.

A copy of the agreement not attached to the meeting agenda, which was published Friday afternoon. City Manager Peggy Merriss said all supporting documentation for the agenda may not be available due to the city having to deal with Tropical Storm Irma this week.

The agenda item says:

Agreement for Services

Recommend authorizing the City Manager to execute an agreement for services to recognize and acknowledge the African American experience and history on the Courthouse Square through a multi-phase initiative.

Garrett said the agreement for services, “Has to do with putting something up about the African American experience that is perhaps not depicted on the monument.” She said more details about the proposal would be available soon.

There was a large demonstration and march against the monument on Sunday and protesters demanded city and county officials remove it.

Officials have been weighing what to do about the monument since calls for its removal grew louder in the wake of a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. that resulted in the deaths of three people. Currently state law prohibits removing Confederate monuments. However, the state law says local governments can take  “appropriate measures for the preservation, protection, and interpretation of such monuments.”

The monument is in the city of Decatur but is owned by the county. It was constructed in front of the old courthouse in 1908. Historians who have weighed in on the matter in letters to Decaturish agree that its context was more about the reinforcement of  black subjugation than about remembering veterans.

A petition to remove the monument has more than 2,000 signatures.  Supporters of the keeping the monument in place started their own petition and gathered more than 2,000 signatures.

The meeting on Monday, Sept. 18, begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at City Hall, located at 509 North McDonough Street. All meetings are open to the public and there will be an opportunity for public comment.

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