HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – There is a movement to relocate the Confederate memorial from the Downtown Huntsville Courthouse Square. If removed, the Alabama Attorney General may file a lawsuit against the city for violating the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.
City leaders with Downtown Huntsville Inc. say that they want the statue to be moved to a “historically-contextual location that would allow our community to learn from the great pain that this memorial represents while also removing it from our community’s courthouse grounds.”
They ask for Huntsville government leaders to “utilize all available means to take this step to promote the healing process.”
“The tragic killing of George Floyd has magnified the deep pain experienced by African-Americans and other members of our community. We are heartbroken by this pain and believe a true path toward healing requires more than words of reconciliation or statements of empathy and support. Rather, this path toward understanding and healing requires specific actions to directly advance this critical process. Today, we advocate that one such step should be the removal and relocation of the Confederate Memorial from the Downtown Huntsville Courthouse Square to a historically-contextual location that would allow our community to learn from the great pain that this memorial represents while also removing it from our community’s courthouse grounds. We implore our government leaders on all levels to utilize all available means to take this step to promote the healing process. We understand that the removal and relocation of this artifact will not remove historical prejudices and pain by itself, but we hope it represents a sincere statement to our fellow community members that we are listening to their pain and seek to meaningfully further a process of healing together with them.”Downtown Huntsville, Inc.
A wave of Confederate memorial removals that began after a white supremacist killed nine black people at a Bible study in a church in South Carolina in 2015 is again rolling, with more relics of the Old South being removed from public view after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota.
In Birmingham, the graffiti-covered, pocked base of a massive Confederate monument was all that remained Tuesday after crews dismantled the towering obelisk and trucked it away in pieces overnight. Other symbols came down elsewhere, leaving an empty pedestal in Virginia and a bare flagpole in Florida.
In Alexandria, Virginia, it was the United Daughters of the Confederacy that took action early Tuesday, removing the statue of a soldier gazing south from Old Town since 1889. And outside Tampa, Florida, a Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter lowered a huge Confederate battle flag that has long been flown in view of two interstate highways.
Birmingham took down the obelisk a day after protesters tried to remove the monument themselves, during one of the many nationwide protests. Crews were preparing to finish the job by pulling up the base.
The monument had been the subject of a protracted court battle between the city and state, which passed a law to protect Confederate icons after rebel monuments were challenged and removed following the killings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the city of Birmingham, seeking to fine the city $25,000 for violating the state law. Mayor Randall Woodfin said earlier this week that the fine was more affordable than the cost of continued unrest in the city. Online fundraising drives have raised more than enough money to pay the fine.
The state lawsuit does not specifically ask Birmingham to restore the monument.
“On Monday, I advised Mayor Woodfin that the removal of the 115-year-old Confederate
Soldiers and Sailors monument in Birmingham’s Linn Park would violate the law and that I
would fulfill my duty to enforce it,” said AG Steve Marshall. “Monday night, the City of Birmingham removed the monument and today I am filing a new lawsuit against the City for violating Alabama law.”
Work to remove the monument began Monday, which was Alabama’s holiday honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who was sworn in Montgomery. There, on the same day, someone knocked over a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee outside a mostly black high school named for him.
Four people were arrested on criminal mischief charges, and the toppled statue was removed.
Read the full lawsuit here: