GEORGIA POWER FACING LAWSUIT AT PLANT WANSLEY
Sons of Confederate Veterans
October 24, 2011
(Atlanta – October 24, 2011) In recent weeks, employees acting under the authority of Georgia Power removed flags from the graves of veterans in the Old Yellow Dirt Cemetery. After the flags were replaced by family members of the deceased veterans on October 8, Georgia Power again removed the flags. A spokeswoman for the Southern Company subsidiary said in an interview with local reporters, "Yes, we did remove those flags that were put up on October 8, and we will be monitoring. If they are put back up, we will remove them once again." Descendants of the buried veterans, and members of the Old Yellow Dirt Baptist Church, have stated their intentions to file a civil lawsuit and, potentially, criminal charges against anyone removing flags again from the graves of those buried in the cemetery.
In 1971, the Old Yellow Dirt Baptist Church was forced to sell the church building and property to Georgia Power for the creation of the Plant Wansley power plant. Acknowledging the existence of the cemetery, Georgia Power constructed a fence around a portion of the graves in 1972 in order to prevent the desecration of the graves during the construction effort of the plant; no explanation has been given by Georgia Power as to why they failed to enclose the remaining one acre of graves with the fence nearly forty years ago now.
After Georgia Power removed the flags that had originally been placed on the veterans’ graves, family members contacted the largest veterans/heritage organization in the state, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who have taken the lead in such violations in the past in Georgia. Family members of the deceased veterans and church members have attested to the fact that Georgia Power neither owns the actual cemetery nor does it have the authority to prevent family members from marking the grave plots of their family with either flowers or flags.
In addition to the potential charges of trespass and the theft of personal property, Georgia Power is apparently also in violation of those state and federal statutes which protect the graves and memorials of American veterans. In recent years, Georgia has further strengthened state laws designed to protect any flag or memorial erected or dedicated to veterans on either public or private property. Family and church members of Old Yell Dirt Cemetery veterans have already stated that unless Georgia Power replaces the flags prior to legal action, the Southern Company subsidiary will be required to pay additional damages and restitution.
The matter had already been sent to the Judge Advocate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans who was awaiting a satisfactory response from Georgia Power representatives when news was released on Wednesday that Georgia Power had replaced the flags on the graves of the veterans but also stated that no final decision has been made by the Southern Company as to whether the flags will be allowed to remain permanently without litigation.
For interviews or more information about this matter, contact Jack Bridwell, Georgia Division Commander for the Sons of Confederate Veterans at 1-866-SCV-in-GA or online at www.GeorgiaSCV.org.