SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah City Council is facing mounting pressure from the Chatham County Historic Site and Monument Commission (HSMC) to remove two Confederate busts in Forsyth Park. A meeting was held on Thursday to discuss what the hold-up is.
For years, task forces have been working on what to do with the Francis Bartow and LaFayette McLaws busts that stand in the middle of Forsyth Park. Many people want them gone, but a strict state law stands in the way.
“I’m hard and fast on that those busts need to go. They are very clearly racist symbols and they were put up there when it was a white’s only park sending a very clear message,” Chairman Kristopher Monroe said.
At a commission meeting on Thursday, Monroe said he’s sent multiple letters to the city council and city attorney to create some movement on this issue but the conversation has continued because of legal issues the city could face.
“Multiple municipalities have done this already in Georgia within the last year with these laws in place. There’s a clear legal path forward on this,” Monroe said.
Several recommendations have been put in place. One would remove the busts and put them in a safe location and another would change the name of the “Confederate Monument” to the “Civil War Memorial.”
“How we are still even debating whether or not to confer to leave this monument listed as the “Confederate Monument” negates the people who actually died saving this country,” HSMC Board Member Sean Mannion said.
Monroe said there are clear provisions in the law to allow the busts to be relocated. He’s studied this law in-depth but now attorneys need to agree on a path forward.
“As we’ve seen with the vandalization, somebody is going to end up damaging them irreparably, and then everybody’s going to run around screaming going why didn’t we do something? Why didn’t we protect these? Well, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Monroe said.
A meeting between the HSMC and the city attorney could be set up as soon as this month to look deeper into the state law to consider the next steps.