BRUNSWICK – Following an hour-long delay in a closed, executive session, Mayor Cornell Harvey wasted no time Wednesday in asking the Brunswick City Commission to defer its decision on a controversial Confederate monument in Hanover Square.
Without providing more details, Harvey told The Current that he moved for the delay after obtaining legal information related to the city’s decision.
The vote has been delayed until the commission’s Nov. 18 meeting.
“We have been beating this up for a long time,” Harvey said as he asked for the delay. “We have been trying to wrap our heads around the legalities of it all. We need to do that because of new information we got recently. We have new information that we need to address.”
Harvey, who spoke with The Current following the conclusion of the meeting, would not say what the legal information was, but he was certain the vote needed to be delayed. “Rather than make an uniformed decision, it’s best to mull it over,” he said. “I feel that we owe the community a decision but we have to consider everything.”
Harvey has expressed concern before about the legal challenges of moving the 118-year-old statue of an unidentified Confederate soldier. The Legislature in 2019 passed a law intended to prevent cities from moving such memorials. Even so, some Georgia cities, including Decatur and Athens, have moved Confederate memorials from prominent public locations.
In Brunswick, the debate over the fate of the statue has been emotional and pointed, with some residents depicting it as a memorial to their heroic ancestors and others suggesting it is a vestige of a racist past.
The mayor, who had promised a decision at Wednesday’s meeting, believes he will “hear it from people tomorrow” who will criticize the delay.
“I promised the citizens that we would make a decision [tonight], so I’m going to have to eat that one,” said Harvey. “I’ll take the heat if need be. My fellow commissioners and I would be doing our community a disservice without exploring all of our legal options.”