Dear Decaturish – County leaders, remove the genocide cannon now!Student organizers from left to right, Bethani Thomas, Genesis Reddicks, Koan Roy-Meighoo and Julian Fortuna hold a sign highlighting the late Congressman John Lewis’ support of Native rights as they stand next to the ‘Indian War’ cannon after a March 20 Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights ‘Decolonize Decatur Day’ press conference calling for DeKalb County to remove the cannon from the Decatur Square. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Dear Decaturish, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond and DeKalb County Commissioners,
On the eve of Juneteenth last year, our community celebrated when DeKalb County removed the 30-foot confederate monument in the city of Decatur square which had stood for 118 years. This happened during a wave of nation-wide protests over the police killing of George Floyd and a national examination which is still going on over this country’s history of violent white supremacy. In January of this year, we were pleased to hear that DeKalb County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to memorialize the late Congressman John Lewis and place a statue in the place where the Lost Cause monument once stood,
Last December, Decatur High School students led the way in presenting a resolution to the Decatur city commission which voted unanimously to remove another symbol of white supremacy in the Decatur city square also put up by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). What we call the genocide cannon was placed by the UDC in 1906, the same year as the Atlanta Race Massacre and two years before they erected the obelisk. This weapon of war commemorates the 1836 “Indian War” which was part of the genocidal removal of the Muscogee Nation from the state of Georgia.
In February, we presented public comment to you at your meeting with statements from an Indigenous Muscogee elder, seven Decatur High School students, 16 historians, 23 clergy, and the board of Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights. We have come back and presented more public comments from other members of the community at subsequent meetings since February. We have gathered more than 1,800 names on a petition calling for removal. Beacon Hill held a “Decolonize Decatur Day” at the cannon in March. The clergy held an event calling for removal in July and the community learned more about the history of the cannon at a teach-in conducted by local historians and teachers in August.
We have been in communication with two commissioners, believed that we were making progress, and that there was a legal way forward for the county to take action. It has now been more than seven months since we first brought this matter to your attention and we see no concrete signs towards removal. Once again, we call on you to finish the job you started last June and remove all symbols of hate, violence, and white supremacy from our public spaces.
Thank you for your consideration,
Fonta High and Paul McLennan, Co-chairs Decolonize Decatur Committee and Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights
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