In addition to protests over the death of George Floyd, many are also calling for the removal of confederate monuments. Removing them, though, violates Alabama’s Monument Preservation Act.
The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act signed into law in 2017 essentially blocks the removal of any monument that’s stood 40 years or more, including several Confederate monuments linked to one of the most turbulent times in american history.
“The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act is one of eight states with laws across the country that deal with this issue of trying to protect Confederate history,” said Historic Preservation Law Expert Sara Bronin.
Statues like this one outside of the Madison County court house, are a focal point during protests for racial justice. “These monuments don’t tell the full story. They tell one tiny slice, a slice of history that most decent people would rather forget,” said Bronin.
Bronin believes the City of Birmingham removal of it’s 115-year-old monument will prompt more cities to follow suit. But it comes with a price.
The Alabama Attorney General filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to fine the city. “We know that the state law only will impose a $25,000 fine on him for the removal of the statue. Hopefully that means that other cities will think to themselves, is having this confederate monument worth it to us or can we live with a $25,000 fine.”
Bronin says these confederate monuments would not be federally protected under the national register of historic places. “Is really a misappropriation of historic preservation law and is creating a false sense of history around these monuments which really don’t deserve it,” said Bronin.
If Madison County chooses to remove this confederate memorial from downtown, the county could find itself in a lawsuit too.