Gwinnett County commissioners vote to move controversial Confederate statue

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to move a controversial Confederate monument in Lawrenceville’s town square into storage.

"Confederate monuments are not just innocent stone and metal. They intentionally glorify, sanitize, and celebrate a dark and shameful past," said Commissioner Kirkland Carden, who campaigned its removal. "Removing this monument will not remove the Confederacy from history - it will still be taught in academia and studied in our history books - however, it does put a stop to the celebration of America’s most shameful and darkest chapter."

The resolution calls for the move to be made within the next 30 days while a lawsuit to permanently keep it down is still pending.

"This has been an outcry in the community to remove this monument which symbolizes hate, enslavement, lynching, and everything else that corrodes this country," said Marlene Taylor-Crawford, president of Gwinnett’s United Ebony Society.

The monument features an early Confederate flag and a picture of a Confederate soldier with the words "Lest We Forget," in addition to a quote from Winston Churchill.

Taylor-Crawford said the monument, erected with funding from the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 1993, is particularly offensive because of its proximity to where a black man named Charlie Hale was lynched in 1911.

"It needs to be removed and placed in a museum or a cemetery, where it can be put in proper historical context," Taylor-Crawford said.

Public comment at the meeting was divided along racial lines. Gwinnett County resident Shirley Ice, who is white, said she did not see why the monument is controversial.

"It doesn’t seem very offensive to me, and I’m a good taxpaying citizen, was a teacher for 36 years," Ice said to the board. "Why is this necessary to do? Would you like someone to dig up a monument to your -- or knock down a monument to your family or your ancestors? Are we trying to erase history just to show that we can do it?"

Democratic State Representative Shelly Hutchinson said to her the monument is a painful reminder of what her ancestors were subjected to.

 "I personally, have traced my history to my sixth great-grandmother who was a slave, and my sixth great-grandfather who was a slave master," Hutchinson said to the board during the public comment portion of the meeting. "When I look in the mirror, I don’t need a Confederate monument. When I go out in public, I don’t need a Confederate monument."

It is not clear when county employees will make the move.

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