Civil rights icon and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young said Wednesday he doesn’t back the fight to tear down Confederate memorials around the country and that he fears it could have unintended consequences.
“I think it’s too costly to refight the Civil War,” Young said Wednesday at a press conference in which he and fellow civil rights icon C.T. Vivian endorsed Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell to succeed Kasim Reed as the city’s next mayor. “We have paid too great a price in trying to bring people together.”
Young’s comments came just days after a woman was struck and killed and at least 19 others were wounded in Charlottesville, Va., when a car plowed into a group of demonstrators who were protesting neo-Nazis, KKK members and white nationalists who had descended on the city because of plans to dismantle Confederate statues.
President Donald Trump sent what many consider mixed messages to the nation in reaction to the violence, saying on Tuesday that “alt-left” demonstrators shared some blame for the confrontations after a day earlier saying racism had no place in the nation.
Young said the fight in the early 2000s to replace the Confederate battle emblem on the Georgia flag hurt the state and Atlanta because the Democrats lost the governor’s mansion. If Georgia had not been embroiled in the battle, it might have salvaged the deal to bring a Mercedes-Benz plant to southern Georgia and an accompanying 3,000 jobs and that Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act might have expanded in the state.
“If the truth be known, we’ve had as much agony but also glory under the United States flag,” he said. “That flew over segregated America, it flew over slavery.”
Young also said he thinks James Alex Fields, the driver alleged to have been behind the wheel in the fatal death of Heather Heyer in the Charlottesville melee, is probably suffering from some type of mental illness and needs professional care.
“That’s not normal behavior,” he said of Fields. “That’s not militant behavior. That’s not patriotic behavior. That’s sick behavior.”