State and local groups dedicated to promoting Southern heritage will join with a Newton County resident in asking a judge to intervene in the county government’s planned removal of a Confederate memorial statue from the Covington Square.
Superior Court Judge John Ott said today he was merging an injunction request filed by the Georgia Sons of Confederate Veterans group and its Covington-based Gen. George “Tig” Anderson Camp No. 2038 with a similar case scheduled for a Monday, July 20, hearing in Newton County Superior Court.
“Because of the similarities of the two cases over the same issue, the Court orders that the two cases are joined and Plaintiff also attend the hearing,” Ott wrote today.
Ott said Sons of Confederate Veterans attorneys needed to be prepared to address legal issues surrounding the Newton County Commission’s 3-2 vote Tuesday night to remove the statue from the site where it has been located since 1906.
Among the issues were the county government’s right to sovereign immunity — which generally allows governments to avoid being sued — and the commission’s vote to remove the statue in light of a 2019 state law protecting such monuments in Georgia, Ott said.
A county government spokesman said the county government's policy is not to comment on pending litigation.
Ott on Wednesday ordered the county not to remove the 114-year-old “To the Confederate Dead of Newton County” statue from the center of the Covington Square until the 9:30 a.m. hearing can be held.
County resident Tiffany Humphries filed the first injunction request Monday in Newton County Superior Court and listed County Chairman Marcello Banes and the five members of the board of commissioners as defendants.
Banes said during the Tuesday night meeting he wanted commissioners to take the action after he heard threats of potential damage to the statue and surrounding downtown area.
County Attorney Megan Martin told commissioners the state law appears to allow removal of a memorial statue to protect it from being damaged, or to make way for a road project or building construction.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans also is among two groups seeking to halt removal of a Confederate memorial statue from the McDonough Square in Henry County.