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LETTER: Local business owner reminds county that Confederate monument was erected as memorial to soldiers killed
Letters - OPINION

Dear Editor:

The “Confederate Monument” on the Covington square was not built as a monument to the Confederacy, rather, it was 100% a memorial to Confederate dead. It is essentially a tombstone. 

It is absolutely the most magnificent work of public art in Covington - Newton County Ga. and has been for 115+ years.

At the end of the brutal Civil War, many of Georgia’s young men lay dead in graves scattered among battlefields, hospitals, and prisoner of war camps throughout the South and into the North. Around 1892, after the Civil War ended, the Ladies of Newton County began an effort to erect a memorial to the local war dead, their husbands and sons, who never came home from the war. In order that those who had died in the war to not to be forgotten, they decided to build a memorial in their honor. These women initiated a fundraising effort which involved a “Penny Drive” to fund the monument, collecting money for 14 years at the Covington Square, and at other events for raising money. Sufficient amounts were raised to commission a monument to be built and erected at the highly prominent location of Newton County ­— which was the large Covington city square.

The Leaders of Newton County and city of Covington Ga. were fully involved with the citizens’ request to placing the monument and GLADLY DONATED THE LOCATION on the square where the monument has stood for 115 years. Today, neither Newton County or the city of Covington hold any documents showing their ownership of the monument in any way. When the county allowed the monument to be placed at the center of the public square, they also gifted the land under the monument and the right for the monument to remain there. They do not own the 6 ft by 6 ft parcel of land under the monument, it was gifted to the monument at that time in 1906, that fact has been proven in several monument removal cases around the South. The monument was gifted to the citizens of Newton county and the descendants of those that lost their life during the war. Inscribed on the monument is a statement “Should no women endure the hardship’s” they did of running their farms and raising family without their men at home to help. The 6 ft x 6 ft land parcel under the monument belongs to the monument, and to All The Citizens of Newton county. 

We must PULL TOGETHER to urge the county commissioners to RESCIND THEIR VOTE to remove the monument from the Square, to NOT BREAK STATE LAW 50-3-1 which would be a clear violation of the Oath of Office they took to not break state and local laws. Should the Monument be removed, each (both current and past commissioners) that voted to remove, will be sued individually, because Sovereign Immunity of Govt. employees ended on Jan. 1, 2021. They Will Be 100% Responsible For Their Own Legal Fees.

 Another More Sensible Option? Don’t take down a Monument, Add One! The county commissioners should make plans to erect a new monument on the square, not remove the one already there. This new monument should Not Be Paid For with Taxpayers Money, but by Private Donations Only. Who or What should the New Monument Represent? How about a prominent local citizen who fought for Civil Rights in Newton County? 

But who? I did their homework for them!

Forrest “Preacher” Sawyer, Sr. — a local key figure and involvement in the 1960’s, 1970’s Civil Rights marches, a time when blacks were marching for equality in the Newton County School System as well as a number of other places within the county. He Led equality student protests. He was a founding member of the Newton County Voters League and an active 14 member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and Washington Street Community Center. He was also Elected as a Covington City Council Member. 

A Great Choice!

As the New Wall Mural Downtown and Other Local Tourism Sign’s State: Progressive and Historical Covington - Newton county. The county and city push tourism and movie making because of our local heritage and history, yet are trying to remove the very history they promote! Very Hypocritical Actions from local elected leaders. The majority of downtown businesses Do Not Want The Monument Removed, as well as a Majority of Local Citizens. Are these elected leaders listening to the voters or acting on the agenda of those that pull their puppet strings? 

Removal of a monument honoring the Veterans who never came home to Newton county from the Civil War is a Insult to those that fought in that war and all local citizens past and present. The commissioners voted to remove it, without any stated reason at the time of the vote. 

14 days later, under advice from their legal counsel, they stated they had threats that the monument would be damaged or pulled down. Several Open Record Request to Local Govt. to investigate all emails, letters, 911 calls ect, produced ZERO PROOF of any actual threats to the monument. The County Leaders Lied To Cover Their Vote. Their vote was based on actions in Rockdale and Henry county where their monuments were removed swiftly at night, and those counties violated Ga. law 50-3-1. Newton Commissioners attempted to pull a quick removal as well and already had several bids and even a contract to remove, before the Monument Removal topic ever entered any “official minutes” of Newton county board of commissioners. This was a pre-planned and orchestrated Racially Motivated Assault on Local History and Southern Heritage. When commissioners that did not want the monument removed suggested adding a new monument to the square, they refused to consider that option.

Local Elected Leaders should listen to what their voters have as concerns, not to the special interest agenda campaign donors want. These Leaders work for the Citizens of Newton county, and they made this very questionable political move (with just 4 votes) to remove a 115 year old monument without proper representation of All The Citizens’ Input. Their vote to remove the monument, the act of receiving bids and contracts way before the topic or vote ever happened, and the sneaky acts the Commission Chairman used in his plan to remove at night while case was still under appeal, proves that the entire agenda from these local elected leaders is corrupt. The local Judge had to stop the removal again even though his earlier ruling stopped any actions to remove. The BOC chairman planned to break the law AND the Judge’s original order. Luckily, the Judge places a additional protection order to not remove the monument. Sadly, these are elected leaders, openly voting and planning to break Ga. Law, and feel no remorse in their actions.

Where do we go from here? 

Get Involved In This Fight to Save The Monument!

The case is under appeal in the state court system. Contact your Newton county commissioners and demand that they Rescind Their Vote to Remove, demand they drop their agenda to remove, stop using taxpayers money in their attempt to break Ga. Law 50-3-1. 

Point out that a monument to honor local civil rights activist Forrest “Preacher” Sawyer, Sr. - a key figure and involvement in the 1960’s, 1970’s would be a better idea than removing a monument to those that died in the civil war. Stop the racially charged agenda and be a real leader in our community for all citizens.

Marcello Banes chairman - 404-805-5094

Stan Edwards district 1 - 678-294-9166

T. Demond Mason district 2 - 678-544-5212

Alana Sanders district 3 - 706-819-0357

J.C. Henderson district 4 - 770-896-3826

Ronnie Cowan district 5 - 678-313-4607

Bill Nash

Local Business Owner, 40-year Newton County Taxpayer and Concerned Citizen