(ATLANTA, GA, 4/27/2019) -- The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned a new state law designed to to block local governments from removing Georgia's 114 Confederate monuments, some of which were established during the 20th century in response to the Civil Rights Movement.
On April 26th, Governor Kemp signed SB 77 into law while standing next to the Gordon Lee Mansion, a plantation built in the 1840s by slaves.
The new law bars local governments from moving certain historic plaques, statues, or flags to museums, and requires relocated monuments to go to a "site of similar prominence." During his remarks at the signing ceremony, Governor Kemp cited the need to "learn from history" as a reason to protect historic monuments.
"If our state legislators visit Germany, they will not see any statues of Adolf Hitler, any license plates with swastikas, or any monuments to the Third Reich," said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, Executive Director of CAIR-Georgia. "The horrific parts of a nation's history should be mourned in museums and remembered in classrooms, not celebrated on public property."
In response to the new law, CAIR Georgia encouraged counties and cities to continue finding ways to legally remove and relocate Confederate flags, statues, and monuments.
"Cities can use the loopholes in this vague and poorly written law to move Confederate monuments to less offensive locations or overshadow themwith more prominent monuments to loyal Americans, such as African-American civil rights leaders," said Murtaza Khwaja, staff attorney and lobbyist with CAIR-Georgia.
Khwaja also condemned the state legislature for making Confederate monuments a more important priority than a hate crimes bill.
"To add insult to injury: our state legislators found time to pass a bill protecting Confederate monuments, yet they failed to pass a bill punishing hate crimes," Khwaja said. "Protecting the people of Georgia should be more important than protecting monuments to a hateful past."
In the wake of the rightwing terrorist attack at the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, where white supremacists challenged the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a city park, governments across the nation started removing their own Confederate monuments, including the City of Decatur.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Georgia has 114 Confederate monuments and statues on public property, the most in the country.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.
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