ATLANTA - Clergy leaders and community activists gathered at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference headquarters to pray for Charlottesville and all the people who are dealing with racial tension there.
Channel 2's Tyisha Fernandes said they also called for the government to remove every Confederate statue in Georgia.
Fernandes said they realize the request to remove all Confederate statues in Georgia won't be easy, but they think it's necessary to unite people at a time when they're so divided.
Representatives with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Legislative Clergy Council and other local organizations were at the meeting.
Pastor Sabrina McKenzie wants government officials in Georgia to remove all Confederate statues and put them in museums.
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"Those statues are a reminder that we were brought to this country against our will. It's a reminder that we were sold on chopping blocks. It's a reminder that we were stripped of our identity and our culture and our people," she said.
McKenzie and other leaders said removal should begin with Stone Mountain. NAACP Atlanta vice president Gerald Griggs said that even though ambassador Andrew Young said that Georgia should be focused on other issues, the Confederate statue issue should not be ignored.
"Those symbols on the mountain undergird white supremacy. They are the very faces of white supremacy, so we can't get to the issue of fixing education, fixing healthcare if we can't fix the symbols that undergird why they won't provide it," he said.
Peter Aman, a candidate for Atlanta mayor, says if elected, he'll rename Confederate Avenue and remove all pro-Confederate statues from the city.
"I would remove pro-Confederate statues and place them in historical context," he said.
Channel 2's Richard Elliot learned changing the street name would simply require a vote from city council, but removing statues would require approval by the state legislature.
Sen. Johnny Isakson was quick to denounce white supremacists in Charlottesville, but in Peachtree City on Thursday, he said there shouldn't be a rush to judgment to remove old statues.
"We will probably have to develop a federal policy on how you deal with those types of things, but it's not a rush to judgment. It's something that you do in a temperate environment and I think we'll do that," he said.
Atlanta mayoral candidate Ceasar Mitchell said both sides need to talk about the past and find a way into the future together.
"We've got to find a pathway to reconciliation, and I believe there's no community or city better equipped than Atlanta to do that," he said.
The leaders said they realize taking down statues will be a long and expensive process, but they won't stop until it's done.
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