BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Brunswick elected leaders said their offices and emails have been exploding with calls and messages about a Confederate memorial standing in the city’s downtown Hanover Park.
The twenty-foot tall white stone monument has been a contentious landmark for years but became the talking point of the town again after the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in February.
Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey described receiving an overwhelming number of calls in recent weeks from citizens requesting the monument be removed. He noted in a phone call with News4Jax, that not all of the calls and messages were local.
The issue to remove the statue was officially raised again during Wednesday’s city commission meeting. Out of it, the commissioners agreed, the decision would be better handled by an independent committee.
The committee will be made of up 9 volunteers. Some candidates have already been confirmed, including a representative with the NAACP of Brunswick, the Downtown Development Authority, a professor of history at a local college, and pastor Jason Richards.
Citizens of Brunswick can volunteer too. Contact Brunswick City Clerk Naomi D. Atkinson by phone at (912) 267-5529 to be considered.
The Brunswick News reported those requesting removal said the monument is a painful reminder of centuries of oppression and racism that lingers to this day. An excerpt from the archives of a Brunswick-based nonprofit historical society gives an account of what the monument depicts. It reads,
“The Confederate statue bears a marble statue of a Confederate soldier. His head is slightly bowed, not in defeat or disgrace, but in dignified reflection.”
The long-standing argument against the removal of Confederate monuments is that memorials are part of history and do not represent racism, but southern heritage.
Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey addressed that side of the argument in an interview with The Brunswick News.
“It’s part of our history we want to forget,” Harvey said. “People have been complaining about this a long time. I am seeing more support for it to be moved.”
However, Mayor Harvey said it’s possible the statue will not be torn down saying the committee could recommend erecting another monument next to the Confederate memorial “telling another side of the Civil War”.
The mayor also made mention of the legality of removing a Confederate statue. In Georgia, state law would not allow the city to dismantle the monument without plans to move it to another location.
The parameters for how the committee will operate have not yet been released. Mayor Harvey told News4Jax to expect more information on the nine-person committee to be released this week. An announcement on a town hall meeting should also come this week according to the mayor.