Look a monument, attack.
Protesters took to the streets in Atlanta and elsewhere Sunday night, outraged over the violence in Charlottesville, where a “Unite the Right” rally clashed with counter protesters. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a car plowed through a group of pedestrians. James Alex Fields Jr., 20, a failed military aspirant whose former high school teacher said he was “fascinated with Nazism” and “idolized Adolf Hitler,” was charged with second-degree murder and was denied bond on Monday.
The Atlanta march traveled from Woodruff Park to Piedmont Park Sunday, where some damaged the Peace Monument, erected in 1911. The sculpture features an angel standing above a Confederate soldier, guiding him to lay down his weapon.
“I completely understand what happened,” said Thornton Kennedy, a sixth generation Atlantanwho has taken his children to visit it many times to explain Atlanta’s history. “It’s a statue that, to the observer, looks like a Confederate memorial.”
But it was erected to champion unity, not venerate the Confederacy.
When the Civil War broke out, members of an Atlanta militia called the Gate City Guard were among the first to take up arms against the North. Afterward, some survivors became part of what would eventually become the Georgia National Guard. Others, who felt they were too old to fight any longer, took up the cause for reconciliation.
“These guys realized a national healing needed to take place,” said Kennedy, a history buff who keeps the three-volume set “The Chronicles of the Old Guard” on his bookshelf. “They organized a peace tour of the North, which is really remarkable. These were guys who fought in the Civil War, against Union troops. They would go meet with Union soldiers and began to repair those fissures the war created. It speaks to what we call the Atlanta spirit.”