HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Madison County Commission wants to find a way to move the Confederate monument outside the courthouse legally, but the Alabama Memorial Preservation ACT, passed in 2017, specifically forbids it.
Many cities in Alabama have paid a $25,000 penalty to move Confederate monuments on public property immediately. The route Madison County has chosen could result in a months long process to get the monument moved.
“I think the one thing that we’re doing by doing this legally, we’re raising awareness of the law the state legislature passed. I think there’s a lot of state legislators that would want to start looking at ways we can change this,” said Phil Vandiver, Madison County Commission, District 4.
Last month, the Madison County Commission passed a measure that seeks to move the Confederate monument from the courthouse.
The resolution laid out steps the Commission would take to move the statue which included applying for a waiver through the Committee on Alabama Monument Protection, or CAMP.
But, the Committee, created by the 2017 law, has informed the Commission that moving the monument is outside the scope of their authority.
The Committee sent the Commission a letter saying moving the statue is beyond their authority and asked the county to contact the Attorney General. That’s something county officials don’t want to do.
“I think once you go to the Alabama Attorney General you’re admitting that you’re wanting to do something that’s illegal,” Vandiver said.
Vandiver says he thinks there could be a legal loophole. Commissioners still want to apply for a waiver to move it and plead the case at the committee’s upcoming meeting in October.
“We need to work straight up with the Committee that’s willing to listen to us, willing to listen to our side of the issue and if it doesn’t meet the laws then that’s what lawyers are for,” Vandiver said.
“The longer it stays up, the more it looks like the community has chosen racism over rocket science,” said David Person, Rosa Parks Day Committee member.
Person says he is concerned about the message the Madison County Commission is sending.
“By saying that they want to act within the constraints of the law they are affirming it, they are endorsing it, they are giving it tacit approval,” Person said.
And he worries the longer the Commission waits to move the statue…”The less likely it is that anything will happen. The more likely it is that something could happen that could disrupt the process,” Person explained.
Person says the Rosa Parks Day Committee and the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance are working together to make sure this issue stays in the spotlight. He says they will be holding rallies on a regular basis calling for the monument’s removal. One of those rallies will be held at the courthouse Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m.
Chairman Dale Strong told WHNT Monday he remains committed to the legal process to eventually move the monument. But its not clear when the process he described might happen.
WHNT News 19 reached out to the Committee on Alabama Monument Protection Monday.
A spokesman told us they didn’t end up meeting in July. We asked if they planned to hear the Madison County Commission’s request to move the statue. We got no definitive answer, so plenty of questions remain.