Weeping Time Coalition still pursuing legal action to stop Salvation Army’s project in West Savannah

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Weeping Time Coalition is not giving up its fight to stop a development in West Savannah it insists will sit on historic land, i.e. part of the site of the largest slave auction in the South.

The Coalition, made up of a number of groups, announced it is continuing its effort to pursue legal action.

“The record is clear, if the place is associated with the event then it should be preserved,” said Rev. Leonard Small who represents the Weeping Time Coalition. “The lawsuit is proceeding at this juncture.”

Some months ago, a historical study commissioned by the city of Savannah concluded that a site purchased by the Salvation Army on Augusta Road is not part of the slave sale site.

But coalition members continue to disagree.

Small says “it was the largest slave sale in American history, and we are sure and believe with all our hearts that if honest and professional historians review the city report, they will find that land was used for basically tailgating the event.”

Small says the large event would have been attended by hundreds and that there would have been horses and buggies parked in many areas as the sale took place.

Again, his view is that if any land was associated in any way with the sale, then it should be considered historic.

The Coalition also announced its lawyer is Kevin Gough, who recently made some headlines as a defense attorney for William Bryan, one of three men found guilty in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick.

Small said Gough had been “tied up with the Brunswick case” but is now available to help them pursue their case.

“I have more time now thankfully, and we can take a harder look at it and get this before a judge,” said Gough. “And hopefully, justice will prevail and this property will be preserved.”

Gough called the Weeping Time site the most historic in Savannah.

The Coalition claims the city-funded report was not sent to the proper state agency for review.

“We are simply demanding the city send the report to the Historic Preservation Division at the state of Georgia,” said Small.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson defended the city’s action in how it handled the study and that it ultimately gave the Salvation Army a special use permit for the site in West Savannah.

“The report was sent to an authorized entity of the state of Georgia, so we can go to court and see where it all leads,” said Johnson. “The city is not afraid to defend its positions nor its actions.”

The mayor also commented about the Coalition’s attorney, Mr. Gough.

“I do find it laughable that the attorney representing them is the same attorney that represented in the Arbery case that he didn’t want Black preachers in the courtroom, yet you don’t mind representing Black preachers in Savannah,” said Johnson. “You don’t mind taking their money, but you don’t want them in the courtroom.”

Gough told reporters outside City Hall that the Coalition is “concerned about the Salvation Army moving forward.”

The Coalition wants to stop the project before it gets too far along. The Salvation Army says since summer, the land has been purchased and the nonprofit is working with an architect.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories