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Local clergy call for removal of Indian War cannon from Decatur Square

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Local clergy call for removal of Indian War cannon from Decatur Square

Gentle Spirit Christian Church Founding and Senior Pastor, Rev. Paul Turner reads from a solidarity statement on July 12, calling for DeKalb County to remove the “Indian War” cannon from the Decatur Square. Turner told Decaturish, “I’m here today because this symbol of wiping out Indigenous people is disgusting. It is not what our faith is supposed to be all about, so the sooner we get this out of here the better.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
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By Dean Hesse, contributor 

Decatur, GA — On Monday, July 12, local area clergy gathered at the “Indian War” cannon by the Historic DeKalb County Courthouse to read a solidarity statement calling for the DeKalb County Commission to remove the cannon from the Decatur Square. The statement came after recent news from Canada about the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves found at church run boarding schools Indigenous children were forced to attend.

Josh Linman, Pastor of Common Table Decatur, who put the reading together told Decaturish, “We are here today trying to raise some awareness of the cannon near the courthouse, standing in solidarity with the great work that Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights and the students at Decatur High School have already done to have this cannon removed. We are hoping to get more attention drawn to it and the awareness of our churches understanding that this is a huge social issue, but it’s also a huge religious issue. Hate has no place in the gospel of Jesus and the way and the love of God that transcends so much of human history.”

The cannon was placed on the square in 1906 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the same organization responsible for the “Lost Cause” obelisk removed last year on the eve of Juneteenth.

In February, a public comment statement signed by 23 local clergy was presented to the DeKalb County Commission calling for removal. The statement said, “the cannon memorializes the malicious, violent removal of the Mvskoke (Muscogee/’creek’) Nation from their ancestral lands in Georgia, including what is now Decatur.” Last December, the Decatur City Commission unanimously passed a resolution in favor of removal.

Four Decatur area pastors each read a portion of the solidarity statement, which was recorded and will be posted online at: https://www.instagram.com/commontabledecatur/

Text of the statement is below:

A Statement from Decatur Area Clergy In support of Removing the Cannon from the Historic DeKalb Courthouse Grounds

Bearing in mind this cannon before us was placed by a group promoting white supremacist ideologies, in light of the recent discoveries of mass graves at Indigenous boarding schools in Canada, in the knowledge that our Decatur churches sit on stolen Muskogee/Creek Nation ancestral lands, and in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, we, the leaders of Decatur area churches, have been compelled for the removal of the cannon from Decatur Square.

We are calling our churches and community to repentance.

Repentance was a regular topic of the teachings of Jesus. From the very beginning of his public ministry, Jesus invited people to repent-to think and live in new ways. In order to fully experience the way of love and life and freedom that Jesus was offering people, repentance was necessary.

The “Indian War” cannon was placed on the Decatur Square in 1906 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the same organization responsible for the “Lost Cause” monument removed last year on the eve of Juneteenth. Photo by Dean Hesse.

We strongly believe that in order for our society to experience love and life and freedom, repentance is necessary today.

Part of that repentance involves acknowledging the ways our nation vilified, oppressed and forcefully removed Indigenous peoples from their lands.

Part of that repentance involves acknowledging the ways the church has refused to see the image of God inherent in all people, including Indigenous peoples.

Part of that repentance involves changing the things we celebrate and commemorate.

We believe the cannon commemorating the “Indian War of 1836” should be removed from Decatur Square.

Genocide and oppression should not be celebrated but as long as the cannon remains, that is exactly what we are doing because that cannon represents the attempted erasure of Indigenous culture and the removal and murder of many Indigenous peoples.

As enrolled citizen of the Potawatomi Nation and Christian author Kaitlin Curtice recently wrote, “Nothing can be healed until we collectively name the wounds we are dealing with as a nation.”

This cannon covers up the wounds of our nation and we call on DeKalb County to remove the cannon from our public square.

If we want to move forward as a nation, if we want to find healing, if we want to experience love and life and freedom, repentance is critical—and so is removing the cannon.

Here are more photos from yesterday’s event:

Oakhurst Baptist Church Pastor Melanie Vaughn-West reads from a solidarity statement on July 12, calling for DeKalb County to remove the “Indian War” cannon from the Decatur Square. Vaughn-West told Decaturish, “Clergy are here along with Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights to speak to the fact that a cannon honoring the Indian Wars, which was a violent and murderous attack on Indigenous people must be removed. As people of faith this must be a foundational principle that we stand for the human rights of all people and removing this cannon is just one small symbolic step to that end.” Photo by Dean Hesse.

The “Indian War” cannon was placed on the Decatur Square in 1906 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the same organization responsible for the “Lost Cause” obelisk removed last year on the eve of Juneteenth. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights board member and co-chair of Decolonize Decatur Committee Paul McLennan stands near the “Indian War” cannon on July 12, as local clergy prepare to read a solidarity statement calling on DeKalb County to remove the cannon from the Decatur Square. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Common Table Decatur Pastor Josh Linman reads from a solidarity statement on July 12, calling for DeKalb County to remove the “Indian War” cannon from the Decatur Square. Linman said in a press release, “In a society fractured by inequity, suffering, and intolerance, we all face a choice: to live for our own good or for the common good. This cannon covers up the wounds of our nation, and we call on DeKalb County to remove the cannon from our public square.” Photo by Dean Hesse.

Columbia Presbyterian Church Pastor Tom Hagood reads from a solidarity statement on July 12, calling for DeKalb County to remove the “Indian War” cannon from the Decatur Square. Hagood told Decaturish, “I think the education of all of us is so important in this. Many times we hear people stand against something or for something, but they do not know the story behind it, and I encourage everybody to read the story behind the Indian War cannon, the truth behind that and I think you will come to the same conclusion I have that the cannon does need to be removed.” Photo by Dean Hesse.

From left, Common Table Decatur Pastor Josh Linman, Gentle Spirit Christian Church Founding and Senior Pastor, Rev. Paul Turner, Columbia Presbyterian Church Pastor Tom Hagood, Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights board member and co-chair of Decolonize Decatur Committee Paul McLennan and Oakhurst Baptist Church Pastor Melanie Vaughn-West stand behind the “Indian War” cannon after the pastors read a solidarity statement on July 12 calling for DeKalb County to remove the cannon from the Decatur Square. Photo by Dean Hesse.

The “Indian War” cannon was placed on the Decatur Square in 1906 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the same organization responsible for the “Lost Cause” obelisk removed last year on the eve of Juneteenth. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled someone’s name. This story has been updated with the correct information. 

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