McDONOUGH — Without any advance notice, the Henry County Board of Commissioners had the Confederate monument removed from the McDonough square Tuesday night.

Commissioners voted early in July to remove the statue and had announced that the removal would take place on Monday. However, on Monday afternoon, Melissa Robinson, Henry County public information director, said the county had not yet signed a contract for the work.

Calls to the county by the Herald on Tuesday to determine when the statue would be removed received no response. Then, on Tuesday evening, officers from the McDonough Police Department, Henry County Police Department and Georgia State Patrol descended on the square and moved all spectators, including the press, one block off the square for “safety reasons.” Henry County Police Capt. Randy Lee later stated the square was a "construction zone."

Ray McBerry, founder of Georgia Minutemen, was taken away in handcuffs for allegedly refusing to move from the sidewalk across the square from the statue. He was issued a citation for obstruction but was not arrested.

Efforts through the court system by McBerry and the Sons of Confederate Veterans to stop the county from removing the statue were denied by Superior Court Judge Brian Amero on Monday.

At 7:38 p.m. Tuesday, the county posted on its Facebook page the following notice:

"The Confederate Monument on the city of McDonough Square will be safely and respectfully removed at 10 p.m. tonight. Protestors and the general public each have the right to exercise their First Amendment rights during this event. Every effort will be made to respect the rights of those participants, while making sure the event stays peaceful and lawful. In an effort to respect these rights, public safety has designated two safe protest locations for those wishing to attend."

The announcement went on to list two assembly sites for those in support of and those in opposition to the removal of the statue, along with a list of restricted activities. Both sites were well off the square and out of sight of the statue as it was removed.

Law enforcement did allow restaurants on the square to remain open until closing time. Crust and Craft, a new pizza and craft beer restaurant on Keys Ferry Street, directly facing the statue, allowed patrons to remain on its patio just off the street to watch the removal of the statue.

News media was also allowed back onto Keys Ferry Street at 10 p.m. to record the removal of the statue.

The Covington firm of Roper and Sons contracted with the county to remove the statue; it is the same firm that removed the statue from in front of the Rockdale County Courthouse in Conyers on June 30.

Roper has also submitted a bid to the Newton County Board of Commissioners to remove the statue from the Covington Square for $35,000. The cost to remove the statue from the McDonough square was not immediately known.

It took two tries for Roper to properly get straps around the Confederate soldier on top of the monument, and at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, the statue of the soldier, which was erected in 1910, came down after 110 years.

The lower two sections of the monument remained on the square after Roper said they had technical difficulties. They are expected to be on the square again Wednesday night to complete the removal.

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(9) comments

wayne

Gulsby, neighbor, believe it or not, one CAN speak of the Confederacy without slavery in the same sentence. Much as it is possible to speak of the United States without an incumbent mention of the rather sad fate of much of the indigenous population.

However, we do find ourselves in agreement on one point. We both want what the "MAJORITY" of the citizenry of our county wants. But I somehow doubt you polled even a fraction of our fellow neighbors.

So how exactly would you know what the majority wants (would you even care?)? Would you dare the risk of it being put to a vote? I somehow doubt it.

Neither did I (poll our neighbors), but I am QUITE certain that, of ALL the concerns the residents of Henry County have, the supposedly evil chunk of marble on the square, was NOT among them.

You may be surprised to know that I wouldn't have particularly objected to the statue coming down. Just so long as it came down for good reason. Just so long as it wasn't removed out of some dubious, likely non-related, political motivation.

You evoked the term, "Treason"? A relative thing. In addition to Confederate kin, I have kin who were Loyalists during the Revolution. Who were the "traitors" then? Who was fighting to "preserve a Union" then?

But the statue is down. Gone. Now, lets plant daises (or seed fescue, whatever). I'll believe your intent is pure, depending on what you want it to be replaced with. What might that be?

Charlotte

Historical malfeasance. Shame on you, Henry County Commissioners, and shame on you, Superior Court Judge, for ordering this travesty to be carried out.

For you have defamed a truly honorable man, Charles T. Zachry, and the people of McDonough.

henrycems

We need to get the Henry County Taliban out and put it back up!!!

wayne

It was appropriate the statue was removed in the dark of night. To do so in the light of day might have illuminated the faces of those who ought to be profoundly ashamed. At best the removal was a weak-kneed knee-jerk reaction to the current pop-fad of mock aggrievement.

Fear. Pure and simple. Fear of "bad-press". Fear of the mournful wail of a gaggle of malcontents, most, who do not live in this county (nor are likely have family buried here). Fear of loud nonsensical blather of these characters who care less for historical accuracy than they are for your and my opinion on this (or any other) issue.

There is a State historical sign nearby, title "The Right Wing At McDonough". Basically it tells of a point during Sherman's infamous "March to the Sea". A short time, after he had Atlanta burned, one half of his army, burned and plundered their way through McDonough.

The young man to whom the statue represents, clearly, was not a wealthy slave owner (one had to be). He had simply volunteered (most did) to defend Georgia from an invading horde.

My wife has ancestors who owned a farm in Locust Grove. Elements of Sherman's army ransacked the home. They stole all they pleased and, as they left, slit the throat of the prize hog and threw it down the well. So as to make the water undrinkable.

This is what the young man the statue represents, took a stand to repel an invasion. All real men will. That is, unless you are a county official and the invasion is to remove a statue.

So here we are. 2020. No one actually reads history, or cares to. It's way too easy, and way too much fun, to feign offensive in a loud, rude and crude street party. "Mom, it's what all the cool kids are doing".

euda

Thank you, Wayne for a sensitive, honest comment.

Gulsby

Wayne...buddy...the fact that you just tried to equate you great-great- great ancestors' hog being killed as justification for defending the institution of slavery (because that's what the confederacy was about..let's be real) is the reason the statue is coming down. It does not matter if you see the statue as something else..the MAJORITY of people in this county (black and white) see it as an institution that idolizes treason and slavery. It's well past time for it to be removed.

Dan

“Without notice” is not the truth. By your own admission, a notice was posted to the FB site at 7:38pm. Also, when the judge upheld the Commissioners decision on Monday, that was notice enough that it was indeed coming down.

Manelioness

Democracy is now dead! The businesses and residents did not get to vote. All four of those traitors that made the decision against the will of the people will be held accountable!

euda

So incredibly sad...not finished...there are many unanswered questions.

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