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Mayor, opponents react to city-commissioned Weeping Time study

The Salvation Army wants to build on the land off Augusta Avenue
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:39 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - WTOC’s investigative team continues to cover a property disputed as possibly being a part of the site of the largest slave auction in U.S. history.

A city-commissioned archeological study of the proposed homeless shelter site on Augusta Avenue has determined that the land is not the site of the former Weeping Time Slave Auction.

The city submitted the results of that historical land survey to the Department of Natural Resources. If the DNR verifies it, then the Salvation Army can build on that land. On Tuesday, we heard reaction from Mayor Van Johnson, who as expressed support for the homeless shelter proposal, as well as the Weeping Time Coalition, who are against it.

“There will be no further council action on this matter,” Johnson said near the start of his weekly press conference Tuesday. Johnson said the city is officially moving on from the debate.

The city hired Brockington & Associates to do an archeological survey on the land. It found the land it is not where the Weeping Time slave auction happened.

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But opponents told WTOC they aren’t done fighting. Pastor Larry Gordon helped form and lead the Weeping Time Coalition.

“We are here today to present our disappointment in the city’s review,” Gordon said.

The Coalition held a press conference Tuesday to express its disappointment with the findings. Members accuse the city of pushing for a biased study and say they didn’t get a seat at the table during it.

“Today, we’re fighting for the soul of Savannah,” Gordon added. “To the people of west Savannah: we have not even been given the crumbs off the table.”

Mayor Johnson says he understands the desire to better honor the Weeping Time.

“The problem is, the weeping time site is on private property,” Johnson said. “None of it is city property.”

Johnson said the study found that the Weeping Time slave auction happened south of the site in question. He said that land is currently taken up by the interstate, Brock Elementary and Bradley’s Plywood Corporation.

Johnson said he’s open to working with Bradley’s Plywood and the Salvation Army to construct a Weeping Time memorial. But added that the city is moving-on from this debate.

“It has been definitively proven that it did not occur there. So, I’m done with it as far as that’s concerned,” he said.

The city council unanimously approved the hiring of Brockington & Associates for these kinds of studies back in February.

The Weeping Time Coalition said it has done its own historical survey of the land. They said they plan to send their results to the state, as well.

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