Atlanta mayor calls for peace after protesters deface statue

ATLANTA — A statue in Piedmont Park that depicts, in part, a confederate soldier was defaced by protesters during a demonstration in support of the victim of this weekend’s violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The vandalism happened Sunday evening as protesters gathered in the park after marching from downtown Atlanta. They covered part of the statue with red paint, put a chain around it and even ripped part of it off.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed issued a statement Monday afternoon, saying everyone has a responsibility to stand up and denounce racism. He also urged that any protests be peaceful.

Throughout Monday afternoon, Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston was at the park, getting an up-close look at the damage caused by the protesters. The Peace Monument sits near the park's entrance on 14th Street in midtown.

The more than 100-year-old statue commemorates the effort to bring the north and south together after the Civil War.


"It sounds like it started off with good intentions but carried away by a few individuals and that's too bad," park visitor Signee White told Huddleston.

"Any type of vandalism of this nature, it kind of sends a signal there's really no peace right now, there's a lot of unrest," said Gary Sheets.

Richard Laub is the director of the heritage preservation program at Georgia State University.

"It shows though what an emotional issue this has become, removal of statues and information from the Civil War and I think it hopefully shows people that they need to be thinking about these things in context and what's happening with the rest of their community," Laub said.

Local clergy members are hoping the events of the past few days will bring the community together.

“We preach it every Sunday, we preach the fact that God loves us all," said a local preacher who would not give his name.

Huddleston contacted the organization that maintains the peace statue, but has not yet heard back from them.

The Georgia State Conference of the NAACP tweeted out a call for the removal of all symbols of the Confederacy across the state.

Reed also called the deadly weekend attack in Charlottesville an act of domestic terrorism.