In an effort to condemn white supremacy, Mayor Andy Berke and City Attorney Wade Hinton filed paperwork to confirm the city is no longer listed as a trustee of the Confederate Cemetery on East Third Street.
“Our action today makes it clear that the city of Chattanooga condemns white supremacy in every way, shape and form,” Berke said in a prepared statement. “While we honor our dead, we do not honor the principle for which they fought. Our city should be invested in our future, not a discredited past. Confederates fought against America to preserve slavery. That is the truth, and we should no longer subsidize any myths to the contrary.”
The move comes after violence broke out last weekend at a gathering of white nationalists.
The city of Chattanooga is not on the deed for the land commonly referred to as the Confederate Cemetery, located on Third Street, but it is listed as a trustee in a decree. The 1942 Chancery Court order outlines multiple trustees, including the city, and is the last document of record for the parcel containing the cemetery, according to a news release.
Currently, the trust owns the property, but the terms of the trust as listed in the decree have expired.
City officials are asking a Hamilton County court to determine whether it is still considered a trustee of the Confederate Cemetery, and if so, the city is asking to be removed.
The filing will ask the court to determine the rightful owner to maintain the property. The city does not currently have a legal obligation the land.
“In the past, the city has authorized the Sons of Confederate Veterans to make repairs to the cemetery under the assumption the city owned the property,” Hinton said in a prepared statement. “Based on the records we have reviewed, this does not appear to be the case. There is no reason why we should have any responsibility for maintaining the Confederate Cemetery—a property we do not actually own.”
The city attorney’s office is expected to file its request in Hamilton County Chancery Court in the coming days.