Hamilton County Commission discusses removal of Confederate statue

Hamilton County Commission discusses removal of Confederate statue

September 27th, 2017 by Paul Leach in Breaking News

A bust of Confederate Lt. Gen. Alexander P. "Old A.P." Stewart is seen outside of the Hamilton County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 16, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Photo by C.B. Schmelter /Times Free Press.

This morning, the Hamilton County Commission opened discussions as to whether to remove the bust of Confederate Army Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart from the courthouse grounds downtown.

Commissioner Greg Beck sponsored the measure to request the Tennessee Historical Commission's approval to relocate the statue, calling for the Hamilton County Courthouse to stand as "neutral ground."

"This resolution speaks to the sentiments of the general public across the cultural divide, and transcends even district lines and party lines," Beck said. "It presents this commission with a moment of greatness."

Commissioner Tim Boyd said if the Confederate statue is removed, no other statue or memorial of any kind should take its place.

"I don't agree with his [Stewart's] religion, I don't agree with his politics and I certainly didn't agree with the war that he fought," Commissioner Greg Martin said. "But I do appreciate the general's service to the United States of America before and after the Civil War."

Martin cautioned his colleagues not to see the decisions made by 19th century Americans through a 21st century lens.

Stewart's portrayal in Confederate uniform is a core issue, no matter what greatness he achieved, Beck said.

"We have to be careful how we try to paint a good sign on a bad uniform," Beck said. "We have to be careful how we do that. That has happened over and over."

He told Martin that, as a former school board representative, he knew how the "true history has been denied our students."

Commissioner Joe Graham asked for the commission to have more time to discuss the matter before it comes to a vote next Wednesday.

The Chattanooga chapter of the NAACP will hold a prayer vigil and a march to remove the bust on Sunday.