Georgia judge to consider blocking Confederate monument’s removal

Group refiled lawsuit in late December

A judge will consider a lawsuit aimed at stopping a Confederate statue's removal. The issue of moving the monument has been a lengthy court battle.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – In Glynn County, a Superior court judge will consider a lawsuit aimed at stopping a Confederate statue’s removal. The statue is located on public property within Brunswick city limits.

From top to bottom, the Confederate monument at Hanover Square in Brunswick is still wrapped in plastic. This was done ahead of the trial for the three men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery, at the request of a private citizen.

From top to bottom, the Confederate monument at Hanover Square in Brunswick, Georgia, is still wrapped in plastic. (WJXT)

Laura Khurana served on the city of Brunswick’s advisory committee in 2020. The group focused on what to do with the statue amid passionate discussions over whether to keep it on public property or relocate it. Khurana said her position has not changed.

“I would like to see it come down,” Khurana said. “And a majority of the residents and citizens here in Glynn County would like to see it removed from our public park as well.”

Khurana said the panel ultimately recommended to keep it in place, but to add markers to give context. The statue stands 20 feet tall and was erected in 1902. Words written on the side read: “A tribute of love from the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Brunswick, Georgia, to the heroes of the confederacy 1861 to 1865.”

Now, there’s a renewed push to make sure it stays in place. Martin O’Toole is the spokesperson for the Georgia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. O’Toole said the lawsuit to block the monument’s removal was refiled in late December. The clerk of court for the Glynn County Superior Court confirmed a hearing on the matter was held Tuesday, and Judge Anthony Harrison said he would take the matter under advisement. O’Toole said there is a great interest to keep the monument in place.

“The purpose of memorials and monuments are to recall people to the virtues of their ancestors,” O’Toole said. “That’s what we think that these monuments do. The folks that fought for the Confederacy showed a great deal of willingness to sacrifice, they showed a great deal of courage against the whelming odds.”

O’Toole said not only should the monument stay where it is but taking it down would be illegal. He pointed to a Georgia statute which said in part:

“No publicly owned monument erected, constructed, created, or maintained on the public property.....shall be relocated, removed, concealed, obscured, or altered in any fashion by any officer or agency.”

O’Toole said the statute’s language makes the issue very clear.

“The statute itself is very explicit that it’s intended to protect all monuments of military monuments,” O’Toole said. “Civil rights monuments are included in there and monuments to any person of significance in Georgia.”

Khurana has a different view. She notes the monument’s 1902 dedication year, decades after the end of the Civil War.

“And during the Jim Crow era, when a lot of other statues of this type were being erected around the South,” Khurana. “The statute itself does not mention any specific names of local veterans or local figures who fought in the war.”

Khurana said what she has heard numerous Brunswick neighbors say about the statue shows a need for change.

“When the overwhelming opinion of the residents of Brunswick is that those are not our values anymore, if they ever were to begin with,” Khurana said. “I think the only thing to do is to act to align that with our actual values to remove it.”

O’Toole said the fight will continue.

“It’s our intention that we will fight in the courts in order to see that these monuments are protected where they are located,” O’Toole said.

The Glynn County clerk’s office said there is no timeline for exactly when the judge will issue a ruling. News4JAX also reached out to Brunswick Mayor Cosby Johnson’s office for comment, but have not received a response.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013. She reports for and anchors The Morning Show.