Protesters want Confederate monument off the square

Two DeKalb County commissioners suggested moving the Confederate monument in downtown Decatur to another location on the Decatur Square and surround it with historical context.
During a rally held May 5, protesters and civil rights organizations said the suggestion issued by the commissioners isn’t good enough as several participants shouted “off the square.”

“We’re asking you to take a stand for those who didn’t have a voice. When they talk about the money being raised to erect this and the people who participated in putting it here, that was without African-American participation,” said Decatur-based attorney Mawuli Davis. “We were excluded and it’s important for us to get that.”

The rally was organized by Hate Free Decatur and the Beacon Hill Chapter of the NAACP. Davis, president of the Beacon Hill Chapter, said other locations have refused to take the monument.

“The refusal of other locations to take on this monument shows how successful educational outreach has been in spreading the true story of this White supremacist monument,” Davis said.

On Jan. 23, DeKalb County commissioners voted to remove the Confederate monument from its current location.

According to state law OCCG 50-3-1 (b) (1), it is unlawful to “mutilate, deface, defile, or abuse contemptuously” or for local governments to “remove or conceal from display…for the purpose of preventing the visible display.”

Commissioners asked the public for input on where the monument could be relocated but only received two formal suggestions.

In a press release, commissioners Jeff Rader and Kathie Gannon suggested moving the monument to a less prominent place and provide a historical explanation to give the monument context.

The commissioners also suggested installing two new monuments. One monument would acknowledge the era of racial terror lynching and the other “would reflect the hopes of DeKalb citizens today toward race.”

A portion of the suggested explanation and contextualization for the Confederate monument reads, “This monument was placed at the south entry of the DeKalb County Courthouse in 1908 to honor Confederate soldiers. Memorials of this kind were common throughout the South at that time. The memorialization of the Confederacy coincided with and helped reinforce a broad social and political movement that effectively banned African Americans from political life and relegated them to second class citizenship in social and cultural life.”

Hate Free Decatur co-founder Sara Patenaude said the monument must be removed from the Decatur square completely.

“The location of the monument on the courthouse square is just as much an expression of White supremacy as the words engraved on it,” Patenaude said.

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