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The Confederate statue stands in the middle of the Covington Square park, with the Historic Newton County Courthouse in the background.

COVINGTON — Chief Superior Court Judge John Ott issued a tersely worded order Tuesday forbidding anyone from removing the Confederate statue on the Covington Square until the appropriate appeals court has ruled on its removal. Anyone who attempts to remove the statue will be subject to arrest.

In his order, Ott wrote that it had come to his attention that Newton County Commission Chairman Marcello Banes planned to remove the statue while the case is on appeal.

The removal was rumored to be planned for Tuesday night.

The Newton Board of Commissioners voted July 14 to remove the statue, which prompted Sons of Confederate Veterans, General George “Tig” Anderson Camp, and Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans and Tiffany Davis Humphries to file petitions to block its removal.

On Sept. 14 Ott dismissed the two petitions, and Sons of Confederate Veterans immediately filed an appeal with the Georgia Court of Appeals.

In his order Tuesday, Ott noted that the county had agreed during a July hearing not to remove the statue until the question of whether or not it can legally be moved had been appealed and resolved.

“To cement what the court has already ordered, the court hereby stays the parties in this case and absolutely forbids any further action on the removal of the Confederate monument,” Ott wrote Tuesday. “The sheriff of Newton County, who enforces the orders of the court, is obviously empowered to arrest anyone now attempting to remove the statue. The Newton County chairman of the Board of Commissioners is to be personally served with this order.”

Kyle King, the attorney representing the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said he was “pleasantly surprised” by Ott’s order Tuesday.

“The general feeling is that this (case) is the one that has had the most thorough hearing, the most thorough briefing and addresses the law most completely,” said King. “The hope is that this will be the one that gives the Court of Appeals, and if necessary the Supreme Court, what they need to be able to review all of this to determine what does the law prohibit, what does the law allow.”

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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