Gwinnett County Solicitor General Brian Whiteside is asking the county commission to remove a controversial Confederate memorial from the Lawrenceville Square that the prosecutor said has been the target of vandals multiple times recently.
Whiteside’s request comes one week after Gwinnett County commission District 1 candidate Kirkland Carden and former 7th Congressional District candidate Nabilah Islam launched a petition calling for the monument’s removal. The memorial stands on the grounds of the Gwinnett County Historic Courthouse and was erected in 1993.
It is also located less than about 10 yards from the site of the lynching of Charlie Hale, an African American man, in 1911.
“In recent days, vandals have defaced the Confederate monument in Downtown Lawrenceville,” Whiteside’s office said in a statement. “Due to these recent events, the Gwinnett County Solicitor’s Office has respectfully urged the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners to order the removal of the Confederate monument due to safety concerns.”
Whiteside wants the memorial moved from its current site near the Pike Street entrance to the historic courthouse to the Gwinnett County History Museum. It was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and includes a tribute to Gwinnett residents who fought for the Confederate States of America in the Civil War as well as a quote from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill — who was not born until nearly a decade after the Civil War ended.
Confederate monuments, as well as statues of slave owners or people who advocated slavery, have been under fire in light of a series of deaths of African-Americans in recent months. those deaths have sparked a series of protests in Gwinnett County as well as other parts of Georgia and the rest of the United States.
State Rep. Shelly Hutchinson, D-Snellville, filed a bill earlier this month to bar the displaying of these monuments and statues on public property, but it failed to move out of the Georgia House of Representatives.
The argument that the Confederate monument on the Lawrenceville Square should be removed because it has become the target of vandalism is similar to grounds used to remove a Confederate monument in Decatur earlier this month. A judge declared the Decatur monument a public nuisance because of repeated acts of vandalism.
That appears to be the strategy Whiteside is taking, although he’s going through the Board of Commissioners at this point, instead of the courts.
“Safeguarding the safety and security of Gwinnett County residents and law enforcement officers and personnel is a priority for Solicitor General Whiteside,” the solicitor’s office said. “Moving the Confederate monument to the Gwinnett History Museum will potentially stop additional property damage and criminal activity from taking place within the community.”