MACON -- The mayor ordered a razor-wire-topped, 8-foot chain link fence removed Friday from around the burial plots of Allman Brothers Band members Berry Oakley and Duane Allman.
Mayor Jim Marshall said he sympathized with Mr. Oakley's sister, Candace, who had the fence erected to keep people from defiling the graves. But he said the city and Ms. Oakley would have to find another way to protect the burial site.
"It's unfortunate that you've got a bunch of nuts abusing the public right of access by engaging in all kinds of immoral and illegal behavior around these grave sites. It's entirely legitimate for her to want to protect her brother's grave," Mr. Marshall said Thursday. "But this is not the way."
City workers removed the fence Friday from Rose Hill Cemetery, where Oakley and Allman are buried side-by-side near the Ocmulgee River. The cemetery, which is owned by the city, was designed in 1839 by newspaper editor and horticulturist Simri Rose and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Parks and Recreation Director Michael Anthony said the city will work with Ms. Oakley to find a form of protection for the graves that matches the cemetery's decor.
He said perimeter fences and a gate are now the cemetery's only security. A city ordinance already prohibits visitors to the cemetery after dark.
Thousands have visited the graves of Mr. Allman and Mr. Oakley since they died in motorcycle accidents about a year apart in 1971 and 1972.
Ms. Oakley said many of the visitors have not been respectful. She said she has seen people take nude photographs on the graves and has found discarded condoms, beer cans and marijuana cigarettes. People have left peace symbols and lipstick kisses on the marker, chipped pieces off the stone or carved their names and initials into it, she said.
"This is paying your respects?" Ms. Oakley asked. "It's turned into a freak show with a carnival atmosphere. I don't understand why people leave (marijuana) roaches and liquor. Do they think Duane and Berry get up at night and enjoy it?"
Oakley's sister held a news conference at the grave site Thursday to call attention to her fight against vandals.
She said Mr. Marshall called her Wednesday to inform her that the fence must be removed.
"This call is an attempt to intimidate me, a lone woman trying to protect the memory of my brother," she said. "After pleading for help all these years and all I got was lip service, I had to do something."
Mr. Marshall said he would work with Ms. Oakley to find a solution.