CONYERS, Ga. (CBS46) -- A 107-year-old statue honoring Confederate soldiers was removed late Wednesday night from the grounds of the Rockdale County Courthouse.
Protesters and supporters gathered to watch contractors remove the monument.
Citizens received little notice about the removal. In a video posted to the county's Facebook page Wednesday, Rockdale County Commission Chairman Oz Nesbitt Sr. said he had made the executive decision to remove the statue.
"The people have spoken. This was time to be responsive and not always reactive," said Nesbitt. "It's a bittersweet thing tonight. The decisions is on my shoulders to keep the citizens safe at all times."
Chairman of Rockdale County Oz Nesbitt says the Rockdale Confederate Monument will be moved to the Old Historic Conyers Cemetery and not destroyed to ensure peace within the community. @cbs46 pic.twitter.com/II0Ep91XQ1— Barmel Lyons CBS46 (@BarmelLyonsTV) July 1, 2020
Sherri Washington. Rockdale county commissioner Post 1 says the taking down of this confederate statute means so much to so many. It’s a small step towards justice for all.@cbs46 pic.twitter.com/0VncTrbIcK— Barmel Lyons CBS46 (@BarmelLyonsTV) July 1, 2020
The monument is the latest to removed in Georgia. Nesbitt said he hopes the statue will be relocated to the Old Conyers Cemetery.
Some citizens appeared ready to challenge the legality of the statue's removal.
Under Georgia law, it's illegal for a monument dedicated to a historical entity or historically significant religious, civil, civil rights, political, social, cultural events, or military events -- including events of the Confederacy -- to be "relocated, removed, concealed, obscured, or altered in any fashion."
“Mr. Nesbitt believes he can break state law and not have any consequences, that he can make an executive decision without talking to the residents of Rockdale County," said Buddy Sumner who watched the dismantling of the statue. "That’s what’s upsetting.”
When asked whether he had the legal authority to remove the statue in Conyers, Nesbitt said, “All of the legalities of all of that will be worked out in due time, but I will tell you this. There’s nothing more important for a chairman of any county to do than to keep his or her citizens safe.”
In neighboring DeKalb County, leaders appeared to get around the state law when a judge ordered the removal of a controversial Confederate obelisk in early June from Decatur Square, agreeing with county leaders that the monument had become a public nuisance.
Throughout metro Atlanta, there is an ongoing push to rename streets with Confederate ties.
Crowds continue to gather in the hundreds in front of the Rockdale County Courthouse.Some are in favor of the monument being taking down while others yell from the crowd. @cbs46 pic.twitter.com/FmVro6gUBC— Barmel Lyons CBS46 (@BarmelLyonsTV) July 1, 2020