State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver pre-files bill to allow for removal of Confederate monuments

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt November 16, 2017

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.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver has introduced a bill in the House regarding Confederate monuments, following a similar move by state Sen. Elena Parent.

The bill would allow local governments to decide whether or not to keep or remove monuments in their communities. The legislation was introduced following a public debate regarding a Confederate monument in the Decatur square.

“Citizens in the city of Decatur and DeKalb County have voiced their opinions and asked me to introduce legislation to allow local governments to decide to remove or modify monuments that are located in public spaces,” Oliver said in an email. “This legislation would simply return this decision making authority to Georgia’s cities and counties and provide more local control.”

The legislation, HB 650, will be formally introduced in the 2018 session of the Legislature.

Current state law prohibits the removal of Confederate monuments.

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.

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 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 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.

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