17 for ’17: Atlanta Considers Fate Of Its Confederate Monuments

This statue of a Confederate soldier in Piedmont Park was vandalized with spray paint from protesters who marched through the city in August.

David Goldman / Associated Press

WABE News is looking back at the top 17 news stories in 2017. 

The fate of Confederate monuments was at the forefront of discussion for many cities this year. Atlanta was no different.

Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed decided to form a committee to look at what to do with Confederate monuments in the city after a protest by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly.

However, state law prohibits moving or altering monuments that are on state property.

After its first meeting, the committee’s chair, Sheffield Hale, said deciding what to do was out of their pay grade. He said instead, they were just there to listen to the public and offer recommendations to the mayor.

Most of the members were in favor of adding some historical context to the monuments as opposed to making any push to remove them.

Mayor Reed spoke to WABE on “Morning Edition” about a month ago and implied he would be making a change soon, but nothing has happened yet.

Atlanta was not the only city dealing with what to do with monuments. DeKalb County attorneys released a legal opinion saying a Confederate monument in front of the old county courthouse sits on county-owned property. Because of that, it can be moved.

The issue with monuments even made it to the state level. Two bills were already pre-filed for next year’s legislative session to give control over the fate of Confederate monuments to local governments.

It looks like the bills will not be passed without a fight, though as the Georgia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has hired a lobbyist for the session.