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Proposal to remove Decatur’s Confederate monument seeks clarity about who owns it

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Proposal to remove Decatur’s Confederate monument seeks clarity about who owns it

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.

This story has been updated. 

It has been widely assumed up to this point that a controversial Confederate monument on the Decatur Square is owned by DeKalb County.

The city thinks so. But the county is not so sure.

DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson introduced a resolution on Oct. 3 that calls for the monument’s removal. The resolution will be studied in a committee meeting on Oct. 10 at 1 p.m. according to the commissioner’s office. The meeting will be held at Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Dr; Decatur, Georgia 30030.

The resolution also directs the county’s attorney to get to the bottom of who actually owns the monument. County officials have been unable to find any commission minutes that show the county formally accepted the monument.

“There is some question as to ownership of the land and the Monument and staff is directed to try and resolve the various outstanding questions in the next 30 days,” a note attached to the resolution says.

The resolution also directs the county attorney to determine if the monument can legally be removed and asks that county officials find an appropriate location to move the monument.

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.

Hate Free Decatur and the Beacon Hill branch of the NAACP, the two groups pushing to relocate the monument, 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.

Johnson’s resolution also asks the county to lobby the Legislature to change state law regarding monuments.

Here is a copy of the resolution introduced at today’s meeting:

resolution Monument Agenda Item 10-10

Editor’s note: The time of the committee meeting has been changed. The committee will now meet at 1 p.m. 

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