Legal advocacy organization says Lauderdale County Confederate monument lawsuit carries no legal weight

Racial Justice Movement

FLORENCE, Ala. — It’s been nearly two months since Florence Mayor Steve Holt made the announcement that the city council would look toward relocating the Lauderdale County Confederate monument to the city cemetery.

The announcement came after the United Daughters of the Confederacy sent a letter to the Lauderdale County Commission stating that the statue was given to the city in the early 1900s.

That news did not sit well with three individuals in Lauderdale County. Ralph Long, Ray Styles, and Angela Laughlin filed a complaint in circuit court against the City of Florence, the Florence City Council, Mayor Steve Holt, the Lauderdale County Commission, and the Alabama Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy along with its president, Suzanna Rawlins. The three are calling for an injunction to preserve the monument’s current location.

The City of Florence won’t comment on the case while it’s still active. Project Say Something Founder Camille Bennett said that’s not a reason to ignore the monument’s controversial past.

“We’re really confused about why our city is using it as a reason not to address issues like the moral issue of the Confederate monument and the dedication speech and all the things we’re asking them to do,” Bennett said. “It seems like another game of hot potato.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center said the lawsuit should not be considered an obstacle to relocate the monument. The center said the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the lawsuit and have failed to allege any valid claims. They urge the defendants not to let a frivolous lawsuit further hinder the area’s march toward justice. Scott McCoy, interim deputy legal director of the LGBTQ Rights and Special Litigation project for the SPLC released the following statement.

“The lawsuit filed to prevent the removal and relocation of the Confederate monument in front of the Lauderdale County Courthouse should not be considered an obstacle to relocating the memorial. Yet, despite that a court is likely to throw the case out of court because the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the lawsuit and have failed to allege any valid claims, the lawsuit is nonetheless being used disingenuously as a straw man and an excuse to delay community efforts to relocate a monument dedicated to the myth of white supremacy and the Lost Cause. We were pleased to see that some of the defendants have filed a motion to dismiss and agree with their arguments. We urge them not to let a frivolous lawsuit further hinder this vibrant area’s march toward justice.”

On August 18, the Lauderdale County Commission filed a motion to have the case dismissed.

Mayor Holt wouldn’t comment on the case but did say even if there wasn’t a lawsuit, to relocate the monument, the city would still need the county commission to adopt a resolution allowing them on the property to do so.

See the full complaint below:

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