Removal of Confederate busts in Forsyth Park not a matter of if, but when

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Over three years ago, Savannah city council gave the okay to relocate the busts of two Confederate War Generals inside Forsyth Park. However, Francis Bartow and Lafayette McLaws remain standing due to legal issues surrounding the removal of the busts.

The monuments legally can’t be relocated to cemeteries, museums, or mausoleums. Both have been defaced multiple times over the past few years.

The McLaws family has even offered to buy their ancestors statue in order to remove it from Forsyth Park, but that also isn’t allowed under current state law.

Even though places like Dekalb County and Athens, Ga. have found ways around these monument removal laws when relocating confederate statues of their own, it remains to be seen how the city of Savannah plans to take action.

Post 2 at-large Alderwoman Alicia Blakely is ready to see a change, and believes one could happen in the near future.

“If you look at what’s happening in our country, in our state, in our city, we are very diverse city and this does not show diversity,” said Blakely.

Dr. Reverend Leonard Small doesn’t understand why the process can’t be sped up, and believes the decision should be made purely on a local level.

“The law that says we’ve got to go to the state to remove monuments from our city is as unreasonable as any on the books. You have to have standing in order to exercise control,” said Rev. Small. “The state of Georgia doesn’t have standing, all of the monuments in the city of Savannah are owned by the city of Savannah.”

McLaws and Bartow are both buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery.

City Council will make the final decision in the process of removing the McLaws and Bartow statues.

A meeting will be held by the Savannah-Chatham County Historic Site and Monument Commission Thursday at 4pm with Savannah city council, to further discuss the options as to how and when the statues can be removed.

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