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State Sen. Elena Parent releases draft bill on Confederate monuments

Decatur Metro ATL slideshow

State Sen. Elena Parent releases draft bill on Confederate monuments

Reporters and activists gather for a press conference about a rally to remove a Confederate monument in the Square. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
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Reporters and activists gather for a press conference about a recent rally to remove a Confederate monument in the Square. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

State Sen. Elena Parent, D-Decatur, is hopeful that bipartisanship will prevail in the 2018 Legislative session and that lawmakers will agree that it’s best for local communities to make decisions about whether to revere or remove Confederate monuments.

But statewide elections are coming up in 2018, and partisanship will be on the minds of many Legislators, she said.

“The thing that concerns me a little bit is the statewide elections next year,” Parent said. “It could be something that takes more than one year for that reason.”

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Current state law prohibits the removal of Confederate monuments like the one in Decatur’s Square that has drawn the attention of local activists who want it removed.

DeKalb County Commissioners recently approved a resolution calling for the removal of a monument in the Decatur Square. 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.

The resolution, introduced by DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, calls for the monument’s removal and also directs the county’s attorney to find out who actually owns it. The monument is located in front of the old courthouse in the Decatur Square. The city of Decatur maintains the county owns it. County officials have been unable to find any commission minutes that show the county formally accepted the monument.

The County Commission’s action follows a similar resolution approved unanimously by the Decatur City Commission.

The state law could prove problematic, however. The Georgia Sons of Confederate Veterans recently said its members intends to fight any efforts to remove Confederate monuments. The group has hired a lobbyist to work on its behalf in the 2018 session.

It will be an uphill battle. Still, Parent believes people may be sympathetic to letting communities make their own decisions about how to remember history.

“The governor seemed to indicate he was open to it being a local decision,” she said.

Here is a copy of the legislation:

confederatebill

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