Confederate memorial removed from Decatur square

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Hundreds of people cheered on late Thursday night as crews removed a Confederate memorial from the Decatur Square.

The monument was erected in 1908 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

The stone obelisk was lifted from its base with straps as chants of “Just drop it!” roared from the crowd, who were kept a safe distance by sheriff’s deputies.

DeKalb County Judge Clarence Seeliger ordered the 30-foot monument in Decatur Square to be removed by midnight June 26 and placed in storage indefinitely.

The order came hours before an Atlanta police officer shot and killed 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in the back, sparking renewed protests.

Mawuli Davis, co-chair of the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, was among those present for the occasion. He called the removal a victory for activists.

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“This feels great. This is a people’s victory. All of our young people from Decatur High School that made this happen. All of these organizers, everybody came together,” Davis told The Associated Press. “This is it. This is a victory for this country. This is an example of what can happen when people work together.”

Groups like Davis’ and Hate Free Decatur had been pushing for the monument to be removed since the deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The monument came down on the eve of Juneteenth — the holiday celebrating the day in 1865 that all enslaved black people learned they had been freed from bondage — as workers chipped it loose and the crowd cheered.

“The Decatur Square is free of a monument that represented intolerance and bigotry and enslavements of generations of people,” DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said.

Many people waited until the clock struck midnight to cheer and celebrate Juneteenth.

“We spend a lot of time up here and it’s troubling that our friends and our loved ones and other people of color have to look at that monument to slavery and to the Confederacy,” said Megan Beezley, who hustled to the square with her daughter after hearing about the removal from a Facebook post.

Thurmond said the county will find a new home for the monument.

“I am committed to working with you and I believe the DeKalb County government is committed to working with you to find and relocate this monument that was removed to a more appropriate location,” Thurmond said.

Thurmond said the county will review other historical markers in the area to see if more should come down.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report