Proposal for N. Augusta monument fails to ease activists’ concerns

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 11:08 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Meriwether Monument stands tall in downtown North Augusta, but its inscription has many people calling for its removal. Now the fate of the monument lies in the hands of city and state leaders.

A gift given in 1916 is now creating trouble in 2020.

“This thing was meant to be tall. It was meant to be a statement, and I just think no matter what you try to put around it, it’s not going to take away why it was put up ...” said Brandy Mitchell, Unify North Augusta leader.

Built in honor of the only white man killed during the Hamburg Massacre, and to many, the monument is nothing more than a symbol of hatred.

“Here’s the truth of it: The state of South Carolina paid for this thing, they wanted this thing up, they presented it as a gift to the city of North Augusta. If the state of South Carolina to allow this to be up, that means that they are full support of white supremacy,” Mitchell said.

The Calhoun Park Committee presented its recommendations for changes to the monument at Monday night’s session. Those recommendations included adding interpretive panels listing the names of the seven black men killed during the massacre and adding a separate sculpture in the park with a theme that tells a more detailed history.

But some say that isn’t good enough

“It doesn’t take away why it was put up, who put it up, or the reason why they put it up,” Mitchell said.

The council also discussed its authority in making any changes.

“If it was a gift to the city of North Augusta — if I gave any of you a gift and you did not like it, you have the right to get rid of it,” Mitchell said.

But city leaders say it’s not that easy. The council must ask the state Legislature, which has ownership of the monument, before making any big changes.

Until then, the monument will tower over Georgia Avenue and the calls to remove it, according to Mitchell, will stay loud.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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