****UPDATE: The county removed the Confederate monument on November 20 and a court dismissed the UDC’s lawsuit on December 2.****
The future of the Confederate monument outside the historic Chatham County Courthouse is once again in the hands of the county following a judge’s ruling on Wednesday.
Judge Susan Bray denied a motion from the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy asking for a preliminary injunction keeping the county from being able to remove the statue. The county commissioners voted in August to ask the UDC to develop a plan to remove the statue by October or the county would declare it a public trespass on November 1.
Tensions flared at a commissioner meeting as that deadline was approaching, and the UDC sued to temporarily stop the monument’s removal.
There have been a series of protests that have led to multiple arrests among those who want the statue removed and those who say it should stay.
The argument against removal focuses on ownership of the statue. UDC officials have maintained that the monument was a gift to the county. If it is county property, a 2015 law preventing the movement of “objects of remembrance” would limit the county’s ability to move the statue. But the county has maintained that the UDC owns the statue and that a 1907 license allowing the placement of the statue on government property has now been terminated.
“The County is pleased with the judge’s decision and will continue plans to safely and respectfully have the monument removed and securely preserved and stored until such time as the UDC finds a more appropriate location,” a county spokesperson said following the ruling.
The judge who issued Wednesday’s decision has scheduled a hearing for December 2 regarding the county’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.