A bill filed in the Georgia House of Representatives this week would remove protections for Confederate monuments on public property in the state of Georgia.
The bill is co-sponsored by fellow Democrat state representatives Mary Margaret Oliver, Shelly Hutcheson, Teri Anulewicz, Sandra Scott, and Derrick Jackson.
House Bill 175, which has not yet been assigned to a committee, strikes language from OCGA 50-3-1 which currently prohibits the removal, relocation, or defacing of publicly owned monuments, plaques markers, or memorials which are dedicated to, honor, or recount the military service of any past present military personnel. HB 175 strikes the protections for monuments and plaques related to the “Confederate States of America or the several states thereof.” Currently, it’s a misdemeanor to deface, defile, remove, or relocate monuments on public property.
If passed, statues and memorials on public property related to the Confederacy would no longer be protected or and acts against them would not be punishable under Georgia law.
Additionally, the bill amends language related to Stone Mountain. Current law ensures that the faces on Stone Mountain can never be removed, altered, concealed, or obscured and OCGA 50-3-1(c) says Stone Mountain “shall be preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the citizens of this state who suffered and died in their cause.”
But HB 175:
- strikes those protections of Stone Mountain, and
- reads that no publicly or privately owned monument shall be on public property, and
- instead directs such monuments to be displayed in state-owned museums.
- Strikes language that ensures the Confederate flag is not prohibited from being flown on public OR private property, including decorative or patriotic purposes, either inside or outside of any residence, store, place of business, public building, or school building (which is currently protected in OCGA 50-3-10)
- NOTE: This would not prohibit the flying of the flag on private property but would not offer it the same protections as the US flag on private property, meaning it could be restricted by local governments and Homeowner’s Associations.
- Strikes language would claims that the Stone Mountain Memorial Association’s responsibility includes “maintaining an appropriate and suitable memorial for the Confederacy”
You can read the bill here.
Former state representatives Jason Spencer and LaDawn Jones in 2017 discussed dropping legislation that would have empowered local governments, on their own accord, to either sell the monuments to a private entity with a bonafide interest, or to give the monuments to Stone Mountain for safe keeping. Spencer called the measures approach “Jeffersonian” in that it would have allowed for local control based on the desires of the citizens and their representatives. Additionally, Stone Mountain would be converted from a “Confederate monument” to “historical monument” recognizing the role Georgia played in the Civil War. The bill never fully came to fruition and neither of the two are serving any longer.
But a second bill filed in the Senate may permit something similar to what Spencer and Jones discussed in 2018. Senate Bill 51 by Senators Elena Parent, Jen Jordan, Nikema Williams, Ed Harbison, Harold Jones, and Sheikh Rhaman, would allow the monuments to be moved if the local entity adopts a resolution to do such.
You can see Senate Bill 51 here. It has been assigned to the Senate committee on Government Oversight.