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DeKab County commissioner plans resolution calling or removal of Decatur’s Confederate monument

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DeKab County commissioner plans resolution calling or removal of Decatur’s Confederate monument

After the Stand With Charlottesville candlelight vigil on August 13. 2017, in Decatur, Ga., attendees gather to discuss the controversial "Lost Cause" monument in Decatur Square.
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After the Stand With Charlottesville candlelight vigil on August 13. 2017, in Decatur, Ga., attendees gather to discuss the controversial “Lost Cause” monument in Decatur Square.

DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson says she is planning to introduce a resolution calling for the removal of the Confederate monument on the Decatur Square.

The commissioner made her announcement via Twitter during the Sept. 26 County Commission meeting, which was packed with activists calling for the monument’s removal.

Hate Free Decatur, a group that has been leading calls for the monument’s removal and organizing events in support of the cause, and the Beacon Hill branch of the NAACP brought about 35 people with them to the commission meeting.

Sara Patenaude with Hate Free Decatur said Johnson’s chief of staff told the group the resolution would be introduced at the commission’s Oct. 10 meeting.

“She’s still working with legal counsel to draft the language of the resolution,” Patenaude said.

Activists have demanded the monument’s removal in the wake of a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. that resulted in the deaths of three people. These groups held a rally and a discussion in the city’s downtown to support removing it. The monument has also been defaced three times since the debate began.

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.

These activists recently scored a victory by pressuring the Decatur City Commission to formally call for the monument’s removal. The commission also asked the Legislature to change the state law that prohibits officials from removing it. State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver said she is in the process of drafting legislation that would give local governments the ability to decide whether or not to remove a monument.

Decatur’s monument is in the city, but the city says it is owned by the county.

Suggestions for its relocation have included moving it to a museum or cemetery.

During her remarks at the County Commission meeting, Commissioner Johnson said she stands with Hate Free Decatur and its supporters.

“I believe that a monument that was built on hate should be in a private museum and not on county property,” Johnson said. “Taxpayers should not be forced to accommodate such hate and bigotry.”

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