SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – Monday, December 18th 2017, 5:05 pm EST By Meredith Parker, Reporter
The City of Savannah recently closed a poll that was opened in November asking for feedback on the Confederate monument in Forsyth Park. The survey speaks for itself: the majority of people say they want to keep it just how it is with no changes.
More than 5,000 people shared their opinion in the survey. Voters could also write in a response to the online poll, or write an email or letter. WTOC has obtained copies of every email sent in, which was about 180.
“I say remove all Confederate monuments and put them in a Confederate Museum,” wrote Elyce Hill “Nothing was good about the Civil War. Unfortunately, it is a negative part of American history and African American history.”
But on the other hand, Will Bridges wrote that “As a part of the wonderful history of Savannah, the memorial should be left as is. It would be a waste of time and taxpayer’s money to do otherwise.”
Over 75 percent of those that voted said they did not want anything done to the monument, but more than half of those that voted for that response are not Savannah residents.
“The survey was not a scientific survey,” said Dr. Jamal Toure. “And when we look at that, that’s not everyone in Savannah. Responses came from outside of the city. Savannah has always been on the forefront with regards to having insight with regards to history, and that’s what merely happened. We see other stuff happening all across the entire country but the mayor and the council decided to say, ‘hey, let us go forward and let’s see what we can do to better our community.”
The task force even had to delete some responses since people sent in duplicated or multiple opinions. But Toure says it will not automatically influence the final verdict.
“We can go and look at the surveys being a tool to help with regards to coming up with again the recommendation,” Toure said. “But that cannot be the be all end all of it and that’s being fair. So no one has a monopoly on what should happen.”
We also spoke with the Georgia Historical Society back when this process started. They say this monument isn’t the only symbol being questioned.
“I don’t think it’s received the attention, say, that the Talmadge Bridge has, which is named for one of the most openly racist governor’s we’ve ever had,” said Stan Deaton of the Georgia Historical Society. “I think that’s a symbol of opposition in Savannah much more than we’ve seen to the Confederate monument.”
No matter what the final decision the task force makes, they are proud to have started the conversation.
“You have to be proud of what our mayor and council has decided to do,” Toure said. “Again doing something that most of this country has even thought about doing, so again it puts us ahead of the curve. It’s showing that we have the insight.”
Despite the results of the survey, the City of Savannah’s Confederate Memorial Task Force is still working to find an answer. The task force is expected to submit their recommendation to Mayor Eddie DeLoach at the beginning of the new year.
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