Sons of Confederate Veterans sue to return Georgia monument

Workers remove a Confederate monument with a crane Thursday, June 18, 2020, in Decatur, Ga. The Sons of Confederate Veterans have sued to return the 30-foot-high obelisk to the site in front of the Georgia courthouse. The monument was taken down last year after a judge in Decatur agreed that it had become a threat to public safety. News outlets report that the suit was filed Wednesday, two days short a year after the monument's removal. (AP Photo/Ron Harris, file)

Associated Press

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — The Sons of Confederate Veterans group has sued to return a 30-foot-high (9-meter) obelisk to a site in front of a Georgia courthouse.

The monument was taken down and moved to storage last year after a judge in Decatur agreed with the city’s argument that it had become a threat to public safety during protests about racism and police brutality.

The suit was filed Wednesday, two days short of a year after the monument’s removal, news outlets reported.

The group suggests that city officials colluded to get around a state law protecting historic monuments, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

It contends that the monument was not found to be a public nuisance.

DeKalb County Judge Clarence Seeliger’s ruling last year said it had become “an increasingly frequent target of graffiti and vandalism, a figurative lightning rod for friction among citizens, and a potential catastrophe that could happen at any time if individuals attempt to forcibly remove or destroy it.”

His final order, in September, said the obelisk should never be returned to the square.

“The world is full of controversy. And if we were to say anything that causes controversy is a public nuisance, that’s an endless road to go down,” attorney Walker Chandler, who filed the lawsuit, told WXIA-TV.

In an email to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Decatur City Attorney Bryan Downs called the suit a “tardy, vexatious attack on properly entered rulings by a Georgia court of law.”

He said the group had more than three months to try to intervene before Seeliger’s final order but did nothing.

“The Petition they have now filed is factually incorrect, legally flawed, and procedurally deficient,” Downs wrote. “In short, it is a lost cause.”