Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey does not expect the vote at the Nov. 4 Brunswick City Commission meeting to finally determine the fate of a Confederate monument in Hanover Square.
If commissioners follow the overwhelming sentiment of the dozens who spoke against the monument at public meetings, Harvey believes the commission will vote to remove it and relocate it or put it in storage. And if that happens, Harvey said the city can quickly expect a legal challenge from those who want the monument to remain where it has stood since 1902.
“I think we’ll get dragged into a courtroom,” he said. “It’s going against state law.”
While there is a state law prohibiting the removal of Confederate monuments, there have been recent successful legal challenges in other Georgia cities to remove or relocate them. Harvey said he hopes the people who are adamant that it be removed will hold fundraisers or make donations to help the city pay the legal fees for voting to do the will of the people.
There were discussions about letting voters decide the monument’s fate in a city referendum, but Harvey said commissioners will make the decision Nov. 4, despite the political fallout certain to come and regardless of their choice.
Harvey said he can’t speak for other commissioners and doesn’t know how they will vote, but he has already made up his mind. A lifelong city resident, Harvey said the Confederate monument has been a personal sore spot his entire life. He wants it removed.
“It drums up a lot of emotion about things that happened to me,” he said. “There have been scars. As for me, I’m not wavering in my thought process.”
He pointed out that many people have said that they never realized the Confederate monument was even there until it was defaced with spray paint earlier this year. But Harvey said residents living in the mostly Black neighborhoods adjacent to Hanover Square are very aware of its existence.
They have to look at it every day, and Harvey said they have been reluctant to complain about it, partially out of fear.
Harvey said there are still White people in the city who have a somewhat distorted view on what is acceptable to Blacks who have lived near the monument for decades. They incorrectly think Black residents have no problems with a Confederate monument across the street from their homes, he said.
“Nobody could say anything,” Harvey said. “The White folks said, ‘These are our Blacks, and they know their place.’”