The controversial Confederate monument that has stood on the grounds of the Gwinnett County Historic Courthouse for nearly 30 years may soon be put into storage for, what county documents claim, its own protection.
Gwinnett County commissioners are set to vote Tuesday on a resolution to remove the Confederate monument from the grounds of the historic courthouse, which is the centerpiece of the Lawrenceville Square. The monument has been the subject of an ongoing court battle involving the county, Solicitor General Brian Whiteside and the Sons of Confederate Veterans as well as the target of two incidents of vandalism in 2020.
“The present location of the Confederate monument may result in additional acts of vandalism and create a public safety concern for the City of Lawrenceville and Gwinnett County,” the commission’s proposed resolution states. “Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners that the Confederate monument be removed from the grounds of the Historic Courthouse Square in Lawrenceville and relocated to an appropriate storage facility to be determined by County staff for its protection and preservation until such time as receipt of further direction from the Court or until the lawsuit is resolved.”
The monument first became the target of vandals in June in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis following an encounter with police, an incident which prompted Black Lives Matter protests in Lawrenceville and elsewhere across the country. That prompted Whiteside to file a lawsuit against the county to get a judge to declare the monument a public nuisance and order its removal from the square.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans then filed a motion to intervene in the fall and assert a counterclaim designed to prevent the monument’s removal. The organization was granted permission to intervene and there is now a debate in court over ownership of the monument.
The monument was donated by descendants of Confederate veterans, but the historic courthouse grounds are a county park site — so the marker stands on county property.
The commission’s resolution states the monument was vandalized for a second time on Thanksgiving Day.
County Commissioner Kirkland Carden said he was limited in what he could say about the resolution because of the legal battle. When he was running for his seat on the commission last year, Carden circulated petitions to have the monument removed and got about 2,000 signatures.
“It is time to remove this monument of hate that has been a stain on Gwinnett County since it was erected in 1993,” Carden said. “Gwinnett has always strived to be a welcoming and inclusive world-class community. Removing this monument is a step in the right direction and it is fitting that we will vote to do so the day after we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
The monument would be moved to an undisclosed location, Carden said.
Gwinnett’s historic restoration and preservation board and the Lawrenceville City Council have each called on commissioners to remove the monument from the historic courthouse grounds. Former District Attorney Danny Porter, as well as his successor, current DA Patsy Austin-Gatson have also called for the monument to be removed from the square.
If the commissioners approve the resolution, the monument would have to be removed and put into storage within 30 days.