Society

Stone Mountain Memorial's Confederate Flags Join Debate

| by Maura Turcotte

Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park, which features a massive relief carving of Confederate notables Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, is the next site of the controversial Confederate flag debate.

While many are calling for the Confederate memorial to pull down its multiple flags, the park technically cannot do so because, just like at the South Carolina state capitol, state law prevents anyone from taking down the flags, explained Bill Stephens, chief executive officer of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, to ABC News.

Donated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1964, the flags under Georgia law are considered to be a memorial and cannot be removed or relocated, Stephens said.

Stephens pointed out, "[T]he law that changed the flag to our current state flag also expressly prohibited changes at Stone Mountain Park. Some on both sides of these issues have said that these Confederate symbols belong in a museum. Here in Georgia, Stone Mountain Park serves that purpose," he told ABC News.

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Many still believe the flags represent racism and should not be allowed at the Georgia park.

Shannon Byrne, who lives in Stone Mountain, believes that the flags are “shameful” because of the park’s connection to white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan, she told ABC News. Meetings of the group were held there, as well as cross burnings.

Georgia State Representative LaDawn Jones also thinks the flags should not be flown. "At a state-owned and state-run park that operates under Georgia code, we need something that represents all of us," she told 11Alive. "Where you are flying a flag next to the United States flag, that indicates to people that this is more than a memorial, this is credence to a time that has long gone," said the legislator.

Others at the park support the flags and express similar sentiments to Stephens.

"I'd rather see it here than at the state capitol," said one patron of Stone Mountain to 11Alive.

Sources: ABC News, 11Alive

​Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons