ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Work crews in Georgia have begun dismantling a Confederate monument that has stood in the median of a busy street in downtown Athens for nearly 150 years.
City crews using bucket lifts started taking down sections of the towering marble obelisk late Monday and worked through Tuesday morning amid a small group of onlookers, news outlets reported. City officials said in a statement that work was expected to take several nights.
As a national outcry over racial injustice prompted renewed efforts across the U.S. to take down Confederate statues and monuments, Athens-Clarke County commissioners voted in June to remove the monument from its prominent location on Broad Street, where downtown meets the University of Georgia campus.
The Athens monument was completed in 1872 and was built in memory of 217 local Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.
Georgia law prohibits moving Confederate monuments. Athens-Clarke County officials have said the move is necessary in order to widen a busy pedestrian crosswalk. They plan to place the monument into storage and relocate it later to the site of the county’s only fighting in the Civil War.
A group that promotes Confederate heritage has filed suit in Superior Court to stop the move. But a judge declined to grant an injunction that would have prohibited city crews from dismantling the monument while the case is pending.