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Judge warns Newton chairman not to remove Confederate statue
Ott says Banes going against his ruling that county keep century-old monument on Square until all appeals end
0705 CovNews Statue
The 116-year-old Confederate memorial statue is a centerpiece of the park in the middle of the Covington Square. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — Judge John Ott said he wanted an order he issued today "personally served" on County Chairman Marcello Banes after he said Banes planned to defy his order not to remove the Confederate statue while a case seeking to keep it on the Covington Square was being appealed.

Ott said in an order today, Sept. 22, in Newton County Superior Court that he was issuing a stay against further action by both parties in the case "and absolutely forbids any further action on the removal of the Confederate Monument."

"It has come to the Court's attention that despite the agreement of the parties in open court that the losing party would appeal the Court's decision, and the county would not remove the Confederate Monument until the appropriate Court had rendered a final decision, that the Commission Chairman is now seeking to remove the Confederate Monument while the case is on appeal," Ott wrote.

The judge issued his new order after his Sept. 14 ruling in which he dismissed complaints from Newton County resident Tiffany Humphries and local and state Sons of Confederate Veterans groups that sought damages and injunctive relief from the statue's removal. The complaints were filed in reaction to the Newton County Board of Commissioners' vote to remove it in July.

Ott wrote that the county agreed not to remove the statue during a Superior Court hearing on the complaints in late July.

"The Court has earlier, based upon the open court agreement by the County, made the agreement an Order that mandated the statue not be removed until further order of the Court," Ott wrote.

He said today's order was issued "to cement what the Court has already ordered."

"The Sheriff of Newton County, who enforces the orders of the court, is obviously empowered to arrest anyone now attempting to remove the statue," Ott wrote.

However, Ott stopped short of issuing any other action against Banes.

Humphries filed the injunction on the day before the Board of Commissioners narrowly approved the removal on a 3-2 vote July 14. Local and state Sons of Confederate Veterans groups joined Humphries in seeking an injunction soon after the board's decision to remove the 114-year-old statue from the center of the Square.

Banes did not immediately reply to a request for comment.