Oct 26, 2022 - News

The battle over Confederate monuments continues

A photo of a tall Confederate monument with a man in a hat atop in a courthouse square

Henry County commissioners voted to remove the Confederate monument (pictured above) in 2020. Photo: John Trainor/Wikimedia Commons

A Newton County woman's lawsuit objecting to the removal of Confederate monuments from downtown Covington can move forward, the Georgia Supreme Court said in an opinion Tuesday.

By the numbers: Georgia is home to 281 buildings, roads, schools and other symbols honoring Confederate soldiers or figures. 110 of those symbols are monuments, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Catch up quick: Amid national civil unrest and awareness about white supremacy and racism, the Henry County Commission voted in 2020 to remove a Confederate statue located in McDonough’s courthouse square.

  • Two Sons of Confederate Veterans groups filed a lawsuit alleging that the county violated a 2019 state law requiring governments that remove Confederate monuments from public spaces to relocate them to a place of “similar‌ ‌prominence,‌ ‌honor,‌ ‌and‌ ‌visibility.”
  • One week later, the groups and resident Tiffany Humphries filed similar lawsuits against Newton County over its plans to remove a statue in the Covington Square. That statue still stands.

Meanwhile: The justices upheld a lower court’s dismissal of claims filed by the SVC groups because they failed to show they were community members and therefore lacked standing, the court said.

The other side: Attorney Walker Chandler, who represented Humphries and the organizations, argued they have standing because the Confederate monuments law allows anyone — not just a "community stakeholder" — to file a legal challenge and seek damages.

  • "Groups like the NAACP and Wildlife Federation sue on behalf of problems they see," he told Axios.

What's next: Chandler is also representing a Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter and a resident in a similar case against DeKalb County and Decatur over the removal of a 1908 Confederate obelisk in the city's square.

Yes, and: Chandler said he had not discussed the opinion in detail with his client but she and the SCV organizations "want the monument to stay there."


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