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Mayor Teresa Tomlinson responds to NAACP request to remove Confederate symbols

UPDATE: 

10:15 A.M. -- Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson responds to the local NAACP chapter's request to remove Confederate symbols from around Columbus and Muscogee County.

In the letter, Mayor Tomlinson says she will not consider removing a Civil War memorial on Broadway. She says she would consider an additional monument to detail the "true cause and horror of that war and its lasting effects on our community".

In response to the NAACP's statement asking for a Confederate flag to be taken down from near the Ladies Memorial Association, Tomlinson says, "No Confederate Flag will fly on the public right away of this city. "

The full response is as follows:

Tonza – Thank you for contacting me.  Columbus, indeed, is a diverse community that advocates civil rights for all our citizens.  We allow no quarter for hatred, bigotry or injustice.  Those who would voice divisive hate speech or demean any citizen stand alone and are not welcome here.

I am aware of the memorial to the Civil War dead on Broadway.  I investigated it and its history some time ago, before the horrific events in Charlottesville.  I do not advocate its removal for these reasons:

It is unlike those monuments being debated and removed around the country.  The Broadway memorial is not a monument to war or to generals.  It is a monument to the death, destruction and loss of life that came from the ignorance, hatred and false bravado of that war.

It was erected in 1879, not during the push back from the civil rights movement or in conjunction with Jim Crow.  It was erected 14 years after the cessation of war and after Confederate soldiers (other than Jefferson Davis, Robert Lee and the Confederate Secretary of War) had been pardoned by two presidents in an effort of national reunification – to not forget, but to move forward as one nation.

It was erected not by the city or county or state, nor with public funds.  It was paid for by the family and friends of the dead.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with the NAACP and others in the community to create and design another monument, placard or symbol at that place, noting the true cause and horror of that war and its lasting effects on our community and the lives of our citizens. Let that area be a cautionary tale to what hatred will bear.

I have seen no Confederate Flag.  I have someone from my office checking on that now.  No Confederate Flag will fly on the public right away of this city.

I hope this furthers the discussion.  I look forward to doing that.

-- Teresa Tomlinson, Columbus Mayor


(ORIGINAL STORY)

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- The Columbus NAACP president calls on Mayor Teresa Tomlinson to immediately tear down any and all Confederate symbols.

The letter from Tonza Thomas says while the NAACP appreciates Mayor Tomlinson's statement on unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, local remaining symbols of the Confederate era "have no place in the city of Columbus."

Here is the full statement:

Greetings Madam Mayor:

We appreciate your statement on the recent racial unrest in Charlottesville, VA but we must take care of home. In the spirit of our black, white and jewish founders, the members of the NAACP Columbus, GA Branch request that all confederate symbols in Columbus, GA/Muscogee Co. be removed immediately. As we visit the gazebo next to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and walk the 700 block of Broadway, we are faced symbolic reminders of the horror and hatred of many of our ancestors. We are a diverse organization that advocates for the civil rights of ALL Americans.

Mayor Tomlinson, these reminders have no place in the city of Columbus. That ole tattered confederate flag and monument erected by the Ladies Memorial Association, next to Colonel W.L. Salisbury's marker MUST come down. These symbols place horrible images in our minds and feelings of oppression to our souls. To ole Pharaoh, we say "let my people go!" As your motto states, WE are a city "What progress has preserved."

Peace and Empower,

Tonza S. Thomas

NAACP President

Columbus, GA Branch


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