Atlanta, GA (CBS46) A group of Georgia lawmakers are working to keep your tax dollars away from Confederate monuments.
It’s part of a new bill (HB175) filed by Representative Renitta Shannon (D-District 84). Shannon says she doesn’t want public tax dollars to pay for Confederate monuments.
“It is about restoring the dignity of black taxpayers,” Shannon told CBS46. “I should not have to fund symbols of my own oppression. I should not have to see symbols of my own oppression walking into a government building or when I walk into a courthouse."
Shannon’s bill, which has several co-sponsors, seeks to outlaw Confederate monuments on public property and to prohibit tax dollars from paying for the creation or maintenance of any Confederate monument in Georgia.
“Georgia is number three in the nation for having the most Confederate monuments so there is probably a lot of tax money going towards this,” Shannon said.
Shannon also wants to repeal April as Confederate History Month.
“Prior to me submitting my bill, the state was actually encouraging folks to have programs and to celebrate Confederate history in the month of April. So, this bill does repeal the month of April as Confederate History Month,” Shannon said.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans say in recent months several monuments have been vandalized in Georgia. The group opposes Shannon’s bill but supports a Senate Bill 77 filed by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-District 53) and several co-sponsors. It aims to enforce tougher penalties for vandals.
“If they’re going to have the legislature pick and choose as to what monuments are going to be protected and which will not be protected, then you will have these memorials being attacked depending on whims of who is elected,” Said Martin O’Toole, Spokesperson for the Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans
Rep. Derrick Jackson (D-District 64) signed on Shannon’s bill as a co-sponsor. The retired naval officer says he sees the effort as a way to honor true heritage.
“You think about what is a true heritage versus hatred,” Rep. Jackson said. “As a military veteran, that’s the perspective I’m looking at it from.” Jackson compares this issue to the state flag debate in Georgia in 2001.
He says if the state flag could remove the Confederate symbol after 50 years then this conversation is necessary to move forward abolishing symbols of hate.
“If they saw it was fit, 73.1% of Georgians back then saw it was fit to remove that Confederate symbol from the state flag, it still allows for us to have that conversation,” Jackson said. “Let’s not stop at that Confederate symbol in 2001. Let’s move that conversation forward and remove some of these other symbols.”
Shannon and Jackson says they have received several emails of hate mail, but they say the majority of the feedback has been positive and that their constituents asked for this legislation.
“It is fine for these signs and these statues to be in museums, which my bill suggests, or on private property,” Shannon told CBS46. “But, there is absolutely no universe that taxpayer money should be going toward funding these well-known and recognized symbols.”
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