Res­o­lu­tion op­pos­ing mon­u­ment in­tro­duced

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - COUNTY BY COUNTY - BILL BANKS FOR THE AJC

DeKalb County Com­mis­sioner MeredaDavis John­son in­tro­duced res­o­lu­tion call­ing for re­moval of the Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ment on De­catur’s square dur­ing a Plan­ning, Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Com­mit­tee meet­ing on Oct. 10. The com­mit­tee unan­i­mously ap­proved the doc­u­ment, and now it seems mere for­mal­ity that county com­mis­sion­ers will do the same dur­ing their Oct. 24 meet­ing.

If that hap­pens then both DeKalb and the city of De­catur have of­fi­cially signed off on mov­ing the mon­u­ment, prob­a­bly to the De­catur ceme­tery.

One prob­lem is that the county is un­cer­tain about who owns the mon­u­ment and who owns the land it sits on. Davis-John­son said that a month­long ti­tle search has proved in­con­clu­sive.

“It’s not an is­sue with the city of De­catur,” City Man­ager Peggy Mer­riss said last week. “We’re pretty cer­tain we don’t own the mon­u­ment.”

The roughly 30-foot tall obelisk was com­mem­o­rated in front of the court­house in April 1908. But that build­ing burned in 1916, de­stroy­ing most of the in­te­rior and most likely all records within.

No mat­ter who owns it, there’s also the mat­ter of a state law that ap­pears to pro­hibit such mon­u­ments from be­ing “re­lo­cated, re­moved, con­cealed, ob­scured, or al­tered in any fash­ion.”

Sen. Elena Par­ent, D-At­lanta, state Rep. Mary Mar­garet Oliver, D-De­catur, and state Rep. Renitta Shan­non, D-De­catur, are cur­rently draft­ing leg­is­la­tion to al­low lo­cal gov­ern­ments to take ac­tion in­volv­ing mon­u­ments in their com­mu­ni­ties

But Davis John­son prefers the mon­u­ment’s re­moval be­fore the Gen­eral As­sem­bly even con­venes next Jan­uary. As­sum­ing DeKalb’s com­mis­sion ap­proves the res­o­lu­tion, the county has 30 days to get a de­fin­i­tive ti­tle ver­dict and a le­gal opin­ion on the state law.

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