Georgia

Two Georgia legislators want local governments decide fate of Confederate memorials

Should the Confederate monument stay in downtown Macon?

Macon residents share their thoughts about the Confederate monument on Cotton Avenue.
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Macon residents share their thoughts about the Confederate monument on Cotton Avenue.

Georgia legislators could consider allowing local governments to decide whether to remove Confederate memorials from public spaces.

Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, and Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, have pre-filed legislation to amend the state law prohibiting the removal of Confederate statues and other displays from public sites.

The bill would let local officials decide if they want to conceal, remove or alter public monuments. A Confederate monument, plaque or statue could also be returned to a private entity, according to the legislation.

But with a Republican dominated legislature, there will likely be a tough time to get the measure on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk in 2018.

“Citizens in the city of Decatur and DeKalb County have voiced their opinions and asked me to introduce legislation to allow local governments to decide to remove or modify monuments that are located in public spaces,” Oliver said in a statement published by the Gwinnett Daily Post. “This legislation would simply return this decision making authority to Georgia’s cities and counties and provide more local control.”

Oliver’s bill can be read at www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20172018/HB/650.

Currently, the Georgia code states any Confederate memorial located on public property cannot be “relocated, removed, concealed, obscured, or altered in any fashion.” It further states that “appropriate measures” can be taken to ensure the monument is protected or preserved.

Confederate monuments and markers have been taken down from public spaces across the nation in the wake of violence surrounding the Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist march.

The majority of Macon-Bibb County commissioners have shut down the prospect of removing Confederate memorials from two downtown sites.

An unnamed Confederate soldier statue stands at the corner of Cotton Avenue and Second Street. Another monument honoring the wives, mothers and daughters of Confederate soldiers is located on Poplar Street near the Macon-Bibb County Government Center.

In August, former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis was joined at a rally by a contingent of black religious leaders calling for Macon-Bibb officials to remove Confederate memorials from public squares.

Stanley Dunlap: 478-744-4623, @stan_telegraph

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