Published on July 21st, 2015 |0
Council asks governor to add state leaders to Stone Mountain face
Some civil rights groups have called for blasting the sculpture away as a symbol of race hatred, like the Confederate flag brandished in photos by the man charged in the Charleston, S.C., shootings.
But Councilman Michael Julian Bond, the author of the legislation, said the Confederacy is still part of Georgia history, although it lasted for only four years.
Bond, who described the relief of Confederate generals as “art,” said he doesn’t believe it should be sandblasted off the face of the mountain. Instead, state leaders should explore adding others to the carving who reflect Georgia’s broader history.
He suggested the committee consider adding such figures from other historical eras as Gen. James Oglethorpe, who founded the colony of Georgia in the 18th century, Chief Tomochichi, who gave his land to James Oglethorpe to build the city of Savannah, former President Jimmy Carter or civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.
“The memorial that is placed there doesn’t reflect my cultural perspective,” Bond said. “It ought to reflect all of Georgia.” Bond added that removing the Confederate memorial would be expensive and leave an “ugly scar” on Stone Mountain.
Bond’s move was affirmed by a 9 to 2 vote on Monday, with council members Howard Shook and Alex Wan, who represent parts of Buckhead, voting against the resolution.
“I’d be supportive of an affirmative statement, just in general, about our position on symbols that could be perceived as racist, but I feel this is a bit of a stretch for the council to do at this time,” said Wan, who grew up in Stone Mountain.
Last month, the council unanimously backed Councilman Andre Dickens’ resolution that urges state officials to remove the Confederate Battle Flag emblem and other Confederate symbols as an option for state license plates.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Kasim Reed said Reed hasn’t yet reviewed the legislation and has no comment at this time.
A spokesman for the governor said they could not comment because they have not reviewed the proposal. In late June, the governor said he won’t rule out comprehensive changes to state laws that protect Confederate images, but urged against sweeping reactions to those symbols amid the recent uproar over the emblems, saying the state “cannot deny its heritage.”
Council grants pay raises to some city employees
About 3,000 Atlanta government employees toward the lower end of the pay scale will be getting 3.5 percent raises retroactive to July 1 following overwhelming approval by the Atlanta City Council on Monday.
“Many of our employees are struggling to keep up,” said Councilman C.T. Martin, who sponsored the proposal, which passed 11-1. “We need to do something.”
Some council members expressed concern about giving some city workers a raise without addressing other portions of the workforce.
But Mayor Kasim Reed said he plans to follow through on the compensation needs of workers not included in the increase approved on Monday, including police and fire personnel.
“The city of Atlanta is in the strongest financial position in more than a decade,” he said. “Because of this financial stability, our hard-working employees will take home a paycheck that reflects their contributions and accomplishments.”
Council requests state fund racial shooting probes
The Atlanta City Council approved a resolution requesting that Governor Nathan Deal provide funding to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of investigating officer-involved shootings where racial or social economic biases have been alleged.
If funding for the investigations are not possible, the resolution by Councilmember Michael Julian Bond urges the creation of a committee or commission for the purpose of fulfilling the same goal.
“The GBI said last week that they do not necessarily have the funds to continue to investigate officer involved shootings that are controversial,” Bond said. “So we are hoping that Governor Deal will give the GBI an increase in their funding so they can have the ability to do so or that the Governor follows the pattern of some other states and create special commissions to investigate these shootings.”
“These shootings thankfully, don’t happen all the time but they happen often enough to where maintaining public integrity of the investigation is paramount in maintaining good community relations. We are respectfully asking that Governor follow this course,” he said.