Cannon to be removed from Decatur Square

DeKalb County Commissioners voted Oct. 12 to remove a cannon commemorating the 1836 Indian War that is displayed in Decatur Square on the front lawn of DeKalb History Center. The vote came less than 24 hours after members of Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights joined local activists for a protest and march in downtown Decatur.

Beacon Hill organizers said the protest was held to prompt county commissioners to vote to remove the cannon that was placed in 1906 by the Agnes Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Several activists spoke at the protest in the courtyard outside of the DeKalb County Attorney’s office before protestors marched inside the building and left nearly 2,000-signatures from community members in favor of the cannon’s removal.

DeKalb County Commissioners Mereda Davis Johnson and Ted Terry thanked officials from Decatur and Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights for bringing attention to the monument and said the cannon would be removed in the next 90 days. 

The resolution passed by county commissioners states that present-day ownership of the cannon is unknown. Because no documentation shows that the cannon was ever owned or accepted by the county, county officials said they will take “steps to notify potential owners and allow the rightful owner(s), if they can be found, to reclaim and retrieve the Relic Cannon.”

At the protest, Muscogee-Creek Indian John Winerhawk, Decatur High School senior Kayla Evans, Sara Patenaude and other local activists spoke about why removing the cannon is important.

According to Patenaude, the cannon itself is not the main problem. She said the ideology that the cannon represents—which she and several activists said was linked to White supremacy—is why it needs to be removed.

Winterhawk said removing the cannon would make Decatur a more welcoming place.

“To be apart of this movement is an incredible thing,” said Winterhawk. “We should be welcoming to each other in all places in this great land.”

Evans said it was important to hold the protest on Indigenous Peoples Day, Oct. 12.

“It wasn’t until this year that the U.S. recognized indigenous people day as a national holiday, while this is great news, its something that should have been done a long time today,” said Evans. “For [the cannon] to be located on the stolen land of indigenous people is a slap in the face. DeKalb County commissioners are in a position to demonstrate that they are in fact a [county] that leads by example.”

Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights activists said they plan to work with local officials to commission a public art piece to replace the cannon.

According to Beacon Hill Co-Chair Fonta High, Beacon Hill members replaced the Confederate monument that was removed from downtown Decatur with the “What Sonia Said” sculpture near Decatur High School.

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