CONYERS — The Sons of Confederate Veterans has filed a temporary restraining order and complaint in Rockdale County Superior Court against Rockdale County Commission Chair Oz Nesbitt Sr. for removing the Confederate monument from the courthouse grounds on June 30.
The TRO and complaint allege that Nesbitt violated Georgia State Law 50-31-1 by making an “executive decision” to remove the monument from where it has stood at the corner of the courthouse for 107 years.
The SCV is seeking an injunction that would prohibit Nesbitt from moving the monument from where it is currently being stored “to any other place than a restoration to its original location in downtown Conyers.”
Georgia Senate Bill 77 was passed last year to actively protect all government statues and monuments, including prohibiting the removal of Confederate monuments. But the bill also prohibits the removal of monuments of Confederate war leaders or figures. The bill makes it unlawful to “mutilate, deface, or abuse” any monument that is publicly owned by the state of Georgia. But it also allows a local government seeking to relocate a monument to place it in “site of similar prominence.”
The monument was erected on April 6, 1913 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to honor Confederate soldiers from Rockdale County who died during the Civil War.
In the midst of protests following the May killing of George Floyd, a number of monuments memorials and statues across the United States have been removed, many of them related to the Civil War.
Nesbitt said he received many emails, texts and calls about the removal of the monument in Conyers and planned to “follow the letter of the law to do things the way they should be done” until he heard of alleged threats coming into the county that raised his concern for the safety of citizens. He then made an “executive decision” without a vote by the three-member Board of Commissioners to have the monument removed and taken to an undisclosed location for its safety and storage until another site for it can be determined.
Nesbitt said he is in talks with the city of Conyers about possibly placing the monument in the city cemetery. Also, Walk of Heroes President Tommy Clack said he and the board of directors are willing to have the monument moved to the Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial at Black Shoals Park.
The SCV has also filed a similar restraining order against the Henry County Board of Commissioners, who voted 4-1 on June 7 to have the Confederate statue removed from the McDonough Square.
The Newton County Board of Commissioners has reportedly agreed to discuss removal of the Confederate monument on the Covington Square at an upcoming meeting.