The Lost Cause monument outside the old DeKalb County Courthouse in downtown Decatur. (Courtesy Google Maps)

The DeKalb County Commission voted 6-1 this morning to approve Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson’s resolution calling for the county legal team to render an opinion on the legality of removing “The Lost Cause” Confederate monument from the Decatur square. The resolution also calls for creating a plan to relocate the monument from the grounds of the former county courthouse.

Commissioner Nancy Jester was the lone dissenting vote.

The county’s legal department now has 30 days to resolve the questions of who owns the monument and how to work within current state law, OCGA 50-3-1(b), which protects Confederate symbols and monuments. This law was put into place in 2001 as a compromise measure to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state flag of Georgia but has yet to be challenged in court. This law contains specific provisions allowing for the relocation of such monuments for the purposes of preservation, protection, and interpretation.

The Decatur monument was erected in 1908 to, ostensibly, commemorate the soldiers, but is now widely regarded as relic of the Jim Crow-era and a reminder of white supremacy.

Hate Free Decatur and other supporting organizations including Beacon Hill, Atlanta, and DeKalb County chapters of the NAACP believe that regardless of who owns the monument, it can be legally removed under current provisions of the law.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.