Madison County not backing down in battle over Confederate monument removal

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Madison County’s Confederate memorial became a kind of lightning rod last summer during protests over police brutality.

The monument was first put up in 1905 and replaced in the late 1960s.

As the summer wore on, amid repeated calls for its removal, the Huntsville City Council and Madison County Commission voted for its removal.  In October, the monument was moved, transported to Maple Hill Cemetery.

But that’s not the end of the monument story in Madison County.

In Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery, as confederate monuments were taken down, the State of Alabama, through Attorney General Steve Marshall, sued the local governments.

Alabama’s 2017 monuments protection law allowed for a $25,000 fine if a monument, 40 years or older was moved or disturbed. In those large Alabama cities the monuments were removed and the fines were paid.

After the monument was removed in Huntsville in October 2020, a similar lawsuit was filed against Madison County in November.

But so far, rather than paying the fine – which outside groups have offered to cover the costs of —  Madison County is pushing back.

The monument was vandalized in August, amid an ongoing debate over its removal. Supporters say the monument is part of Alabama and the South’s history. Critics say it honors a legacy of slavery and sedition.

In court filings Madison County argues it followed the law in petitioning the state monuments commission for removal of the monument, but since the Committee on Alabama Monument Protection didn’t respond after 90 days, the law allows it to be removed. The state disagrees, arguing the Alabama Supreme Court has found there law does not allow for a waiver to alter or remove the monument.

There are two pending lawsuits on the monument’s removal. Along with the attorney general’s office claim, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Heritage Protection of North Alabama first sought to block the move and want the monument returned to the courthouse. Madison County is asking that those lawsuits be combined into one case.

Attorneys for the Committee on Alabama Monument Protection moved Tuesday to block a subpoena from Madison County seeking records about its deliberations concerning the monument.

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