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Group sues Savannah City Council over homeless shelter proposal

Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A group is suing every single member of Savannah’s City Council, claiming that some of them knowingly approved a homeless shelter project on what they claim is the site of the largest slave auction in U.S. history.

The Weeping Time Coalition held a protest Monday in front of Chatham County Superior Court.

In July, a city-commissioned archeological survey found the site, off Augusta Avenue in West Savannah, is not the former site of the traumatic Weeping Time slave auction. But the coalition is basing its lawsuit not on those findings, but instead on a discrepancy. They are citing a memo to the city council from former City Manager Michael Brown.

In it, Brown told council members that, “Once the report is complete, it will be shared with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Historic Preservation Division to verify the assessment.”

But, instead, the city sent it to the Georgia Office of the State Archaeologist.

Email records obtained by WTOC show they did that at the request of the Historic Preservation Division.

In August, State Archeologist Rachel Black told the city she agreed with the findings in the study.

But the coalition says the city did not do as it said.

“But, since the majority, what we call “Van’s click” on the board did vote to allow the Salvation Army to desecrate the Weeping Time property, we are here now filing this case because they knew better and they didn’t do better,” said Rev. Leonard Small, with the Weeping Time Coalition.

You just heard the reverend mentioned the Salvation Army by name.

The Salvation Army gave us a statement. They say in-part, “The Salvation Army of Savannah (TSA) is pleased that an independent study has proven that its future Augusta Road transitional housing property is not on the site of the Weeping Time.”

It went on to say that the Salvation Army recognizes the significance of the Weeping Time and will work with the city to honor the historic event.

The city council voted to allow the Salvation Army to build a homeless shelter on the land if a professional study proved it is not the site of the weeping time.

That already happened.

The city was asked if who they got the study verified from even matters. Their spokesperson could not give me a definitive answer.

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