A reward is offered for information leading to the arrests of persons responsible for destroying a Confederate statue in Sylvania.
The 109-year-old monument was toppled sometime overnight Thursday or early morning Friday, said Sylvania police Chief Shane Burke.
Landscapers working in the Screven County Memorial Cemetery noticed the statue early Friday morning when they arrived to work, finding the marble soldier on the ground in pieces. The landscaping crew had seen the monument the day before and it was whole, he said.
Burke said Sylvania Mayor Preston Dees issued a brief statement Friday about the vandalism, stating such disrespect will not be tolerated.
“The City of Sylvania does not condone destruction of any historical monument,” Dees said.
Burke said the statue was erected in 1909 by wives and daughters of Confederate soldiers. The statue was moved from a city park in the 1950s, when the space it previously occupied was turned into a parking lot, he said.
Adam Bazemore, camp commander for the Black Creek Volunteers Camp 549 Sons of Confederate Veterans, said the destruction is devastating. Its value is “priceless,” since the historical monument was purchased by survivors of the Civil War soldiers who died in the fight, but the group does plan to replace the soldier part of the statue. The base remained intact, he said.
The misdeed couldn’t have been easy, he said.
“It is solid marble,” he said. “A piece of the pedestal (that was toppled) dug a foot into the ground” upon impact.
The vandalism is being investigated by the Sylvania Police Department, who called for assistance from the Statesboro Region 5 Georgia Bureau of Investigation office.
GBI Special Agent-in-Charge John Durden said Friday his office had been out at the scene investigating “most of the day.” The Screven County Sheriff’s Office also assisted, said Investigator Brett Dickerson.
statement included a portion of an inscription on the statue: “To the Confederate soldiers who went from
Screven County to fight for the South
in the War Between the States, and who from 1861 to '65 nobly illustrated Georgia on the field of battle, this monument is erected by their descendants as a memorial of their deeds.”
Bazemore said a $2,000 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the damage. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sylvania Police Department at (912) 564-2055.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.