McDONOUGH – The Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is seeking legal action against the Henry County Board of Commissioners following its Tuesday vote to remove the Confederate statue from the McDonough Square.
The BOC voted 4-1 to remove the statue. Chairwoman June Wood, District 2 Commissioner Dee Clemmons, District 4 Commissioner Vivian Thomas and District 5 Commissioner Bruce Holmes voted in favor of the removal, while District 3 Commissioner Gary Barham voted against. Johnny Wilson, who represents District 1, was not present at the meeting.
In addition, the Sons of Confederate Veterans is seeking a restraining preventing the county from removing the statue.
According to the civil suit documents, the Sons of Confederate Veterans contends that the BOC intends to violate state law by removing the statue, citing O.C.G.A. 50-3-1 “by removing the Confederate monument from its place of honor and prominence in downtown McDonough.”
O.C.G.A. 50-3-1 concerns state flags, defacing of public monuments and obstruction and relocation of said monuments, which include “the military service of… the United States of America… or the Confederate States of America.”
The law states that “No publicly owned monument erected… on the public property of this state or its agencies… shall be relocated, removed, concealed, obscured or altered in any fashion by any officer or agency.”
However, the law also states that “appropriate measures for the preservation, protection and interpretation of such monument or memorial shall not be prohibited.”
Late last month, a similar statue was removed from the corner of the Rockdale County Courthouse in Conyers after Commission Chair Oz Nesbitt Sr. cited threats coming into the county and his concern for the safety of the citizens in the area.
That statue was removed and placed in storage at an undisclosed location.
Similarly, Henry County commissioners stated on Tuesday that the Confederate statue would not be destroyed, but would rather be donated or moved to an area deemed appropriate, which could include a Confederate cemetery in the area.
A release from the SCV stated the move by the BOC was “unlawful.”
“Sons of Confederate Veterans condemns in the strongest terms possible the vandalism, removal and defacement of any veteran’s monuments, memorials or grave markers and will assist law enforcement in any possible to vigorously pursue the prosecution of these heinous violations to the fullest extent of the law.”
The statue, located in the center of the McDonough Square, was erected in 1910 by funds raised through the Charles T. Zachry Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
There were discussions concerning who owned the statue in the first place, and no one in the meeting – commissioners or County Attorney Patrick Jaugstetter – was able to answer whether or not the statue was owned by the county or the city of McDonough or by a private party, as neither Henry County’s or McDonough’s records stretched as far back as 1910.
The Herald has contacted the county government for a comment on the legal action but has not received a response.