Controversial Confederate Monument bill goes to committee as protests occur nationally over similar legislation

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A conference committee will decide what to do with an Alabama bill that would prevent Confederate monuments from being taken down.

The group will try to resolve House and Senate differences in the bill that would prohibit the removal of any historic marker or monument.

The House of Representatives on Thursday appointed conference committee members so the panel can meet in the final week of the legislative session.

The bill comes as some Southern cities consider taking down Confederate monuments.

Black lawmakers have opposed the legislation as it moved through both chambers.

Backlash to local governments removing Confederate monuments propelled a similar Virginia bill through the Legislature and onto the desk of Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe last year.

That bill also would have prevented local governments from moving or changing war memorials.

McAuliffe vetoed the measure last year, explaining in a statement that “this legislation would have been a sweeping override of local authority over these monuments and memorials including potential ramifications for interpretive signage to tell the story of some of our darkest moments during the Civil War.”

A large crowd carrying torches gathered to protest the decision to remove Confederate monuments, including one of Robert E. Lee. at Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday night.

Richard Spencer, a self-proclaimed white nationalist, attended the protest.

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer released a statement on the demonstration:

This event involving torches at night in Lee Park was either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK. Either way, as mayor of this City, I want everyone to know this: we reject this intimidation. We are a Welcoming City, but such intolerance is not welcome here.

Tom Perriello, who is running to be the next Virginia governor, also tweeted about the protest.

Masked workers removed the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in New Orleans, La. earlier this week.  It was the second of four Confederate monuments slated for removal.

As the statue was lifted from its perch on a grassy median along one of the city’s main thoroughfares, a cheer went up from some of the dozens of protesters on the scene who have been pushing for the monument’s removal.

The City Council voted in 2015 to remove four monuments, including statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T Beauregard.

But the process has been stalled in the courts.

The issue was whether the city owns the monument honoring Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard. That statue is located at the entrance to New Orleans City Park. Those who don’t want it removed argued that it belongs to a park board, and therefore the city has no authority to remove it.

A judge rejected a last-ditch effort to block the removal of the monument.

Late last month, the first monument, a 35-foot-tall granite obelisk, was removed by masked workers under cover of darkness.