(ATLANTA, GA, 4/27/19) -- The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned a new state law designed to block local governments from relocating Confederate monuments, some of which were established during the 20th century in response to the Civil Rights Movement.
On April 26, 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 Governor Kemp visits Germany, he will not see statues of Adolf Hitler, license plates with Nazi swastikas on them, or 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 on public property.
"Counties and cities can use the loopholes in this vague and poorly-written law to move Confederate monuments to less offensive locations or overshadow them with 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: Governor Kemp and 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."
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Georgia has 114 Confederate monuments and statues on public property, the most in the country.
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.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: Edward Ahmed Mitchell, 404-285-9530, firstname.lastname@example.org