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Resolution to remove ‘Indian War’ cannon on Decatur City Commission agenda

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Resolution to remove ‘Indian War’ cannon on Decatur City Commission agenda

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The cannon from the Indian War of 1836 that Andre Williams is walking past is one of the monuments to hate and white supremacy currently located around the historic DeKalb County courthouse that were demanded to be removed during the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights “Take It Down-No More Monuments to White Supremacy” rally on the Decatur Square June 17. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission at its Dec. 21 meeting will consider a resolution supporting the removal of the cannon commemorating the “Indian War” of 1836 from Decatur Square.

Removal would be up to the DeKalb County, which is also the government entity that was responsible for removing the Confederate obelisk that came down in June. Decatur’s resolution would be a show of solidarity with the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, the group pushing to have the cannon removed.

The cannon was placed in Decatur in 1906 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and memorializes the removal of indigenous peoples following the Creek Indian War of 1836. The war was a consequence of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which President Andrew Jackson strongly supported, according to a report from the National Park Service.

In 1821, Georgia forced the sale of half of the remaining Creek land, including the land that is now the city of Decatur, which was taken by white settlers in a land lottery. The United Daughters of the Confederacy was also behind the placement of the Confederate obelisk.

The City Commission meeting, most likely the last of 2020, begins with a work session at 6:45 p.m. followed by the regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. It will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are instructions for viewing and participating in the meeting:

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1. View the live broadcast of the Decatur City Commission meeting at https://www.decaturga.com/citycommission/page/streaming-video.

2. Register in advance to participate during either the “Public Comment” or “Requests and Petitions” portions of the meeting at https://zoom.us/j/97082092944. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You may also participate by phone by calling (929) 205-6099 and entering the meeting ID (The 11-digit number shown in the Zoom registration link.)

If you are unable to participate in the virtual meeting, you may email your “public comments” on agenda items or submit “requests and petitions” by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, December 21st to: Andrea Arnold, City Manager, andrea.arnold@decaturga.com

Here is the full text of the resolution the City Commission is considering regarding the removal of the cannon:

WHEREAS, in March, 2015,  the City Commission of the City of Decatur, Georgia approved  Resolution R-15-04 officially designating Decatur as a Welcoming City; and,

WHEREAS, this Resolution declares that fostering a welcoming environment for all individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity or place of origin, enhances the City of Decatur’s cultural fabric, economic growth, global competitiveness, and overall prosperity for current and future generations; and,

WHEREAS, this same Resolution asserts that Decatur has long been recognized as a hospitable and welcoming place where people, families and institutions thrive and the contributions of all are celebrated and valued; and,

WHEREAS, the Resolution affirms that Decatur is committed to continue building a welcoming and neighborly atmosphere in our community, where all people are welcome, accepted and integrated; and,

WHEREAS, the United Daughters of the Confederacy placed two symbols of hate, division, and intimidation in the City in 1906 (the cannon) and in 1908 (the Confederate monument) to promote a white supremacist historical narrative; and,

WHEREAS, due to the efforts of many community members, the Confederate monument on the Decatur Square was removed on the eve of Juneteenth, 2020; and,

WHEREAS, the cannon commemorates the 1836 “Indian War” that was the final action in the genocidal removal of the Mvskoke/Muscogee (“Creek”) Nation from the states of Georgia and Alabama, to what was known as “Indian Territory” in Oklahoma; and,

WHEREAS, the City of Decatur is committed to the work of eradicating racism and creating a more just, inclusive, and compassionate community; and,

WHEREAS, members of the Decatur community came together for Indigenous People’s Day on October 11, 2020 to demand the removal of this cannon as another step towards raising awareness, practicing restorative justice, and establishing equity in our diverse community; and,

WHEREAS, the presence of the cannon impedes the ability of the community to achieve inclusivity, equity and justice for all.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, and it is hereby resolved, by the City Commission of the City of Decatur, Georgia, that the City Commission does support action by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners to remove the cannon from the grounds of the historic DeKalb County Courthouse.

This 21st day of December, 2020.

In other City Commission business:

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– The City Commission will consider approving special exceptions to allow for the redevelopment the East Decatur Station property along College Avenue between Sams and New Streets.

As reported previously in Decaturish, Charlotte, NC-based developer Northwood Ravin intends to build a 400+ apartment community together with a mix of restaurants, shops and a large co-working space on the six-acre property. If completed, it would be the first residential development in Decatur to come under the city’s new mandatory inclusionary zoning requirements.

The Decatur Planning Commission unanimously approved the plans on Dec. 8.

“In keeping with Decatur’s ordinance, we will reserve 10 percent of the units for residents with incomes at or below 80 percent of AMI [area median income],” Ben Yorker, Northwood’s vice president for development, said during the Planning Commission meeting. “These units will be distributed throughout the site and across all housing types.”

Plans for the development call for a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom units that surround a parking structure in the interior of the site. The developer will also construct a new section of Freeman Street to run along the southern edge of the development, connecting Sams Street and New Street. All vehicle entrances to the development and the parking structure will be off this new section of Freeman Street or a private drive that will run through the development and connect to New Street. The state Department of Transportation will not allow any new curb cuts or traffic entrances off College Avenue.

The area is already zoned for mixed-use developments like this, but Northwood is seeking five exceptions to Decatur’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) to enable it to develop the property in compliance with the city’s fire-safety requirements and to build enough units to make the development economically feasible, Yorker said.

To learn about those exceptions and to learn more about this project, click here.

– The City Commission will consider extending its face-covering (mask) ordinance through Jan. 19, 2021.

– The City Commission will consider awarding a contract worth $57,165 to GTG Traffic Signals, LLC for a flashing pedestrian beacon and median island at 184 South Candler Street next to the Agnes Scott College campus.

“Agnes Scott College will be a partner in the pedestrian beacon project and has committed funds to cover half of the project implementation cost in an amount not to exceed $26,500,” a memo from Assistant City Manager David Junger said. “City staff has been working with Agnes Scott College, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the community to provide safe pedestrian crossings along the corridor for residents, Agnes Scott College students and faculty and the City Schools of Decatur Safe Routes to School program.”

– The City Commission will consider awarding a $179,020 contract to Municipal Emergency Services for 24 self-contained breathing apparatuses for the Fire Department.

– The City Commission will consider awarding a $28,500 contract to Arborguard Tree Specialists for maintenance of street trees in downtown Decatur.

Writer Cathi Harris contributed to this story. 

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