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Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Lynn Park, Birmingham, Alabama

Earlier this week Birmingham Mayor William Bell had a confederate monument in downtown’s Linn Park covered up, and now the Attorney General is suing the city of Birmingham over it.

Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Lynn Park, Birmingham, Alabama
Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, photo by Pat Byington

After the August 11 Charlottesville, Virginia “Unite The Right” rally turned into a deadly protest, calls for the removal of Civil War monuments have been growing across the country.

 

Should Civil War monuments be removed from public places?

Yes
No
Yes, but they should be placed in a museum
No, but they should have a plaque added with context and perspective.

quiz

WBRC reported that park visitors have expressed “mixed emotions” over the monument being covered up.

Reporter Melanie Posey interviewed a passerby named Gerrard Barrington  during his first trip to Birmingham:

“Whether they decide to leave it up or tear it down, the idea still remains,” Barrington told WBRC. “How can you know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been?

“If you have it up, that’s a reminder for everyone on both sides of the issue and that way we can figure out a new way to get to where we want to be.”

Mayoral candidate Frank Matthews asked, “Why now?” as city workers covered up the statue. You can watch his live objections here.

In addition, WVTM’s Fred Davenport shared video on Facebook of a Shelby County woman expressing her outrage at the monument being covered up. You can watch it here.

Mayor William Bell also made appearances on national news outlets like CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° and MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, speaking about his decisionYou can watch a clip of Mayor Bell with Rachel Maddow by following this link.

Background

Militias, neo-confederates, neo-Nazis, white nationalists and white supremacists organized the march that took place in Virginia on August 11 to oppose the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park.

The event turned violent as protesters clashed with counterprotesters that were also marching at the rally. After a man linked with white-supremacy groups plowed his car into a group of counterprotesters, the gathering turned deadly. One woman died, and at least 19 were injured as the car struck the crowd of counterprotesters. Two state police officers also died in an unrelated helicopter crash during the rally.

What Now?

The Alabama Legislature passed a law preventing any local government from removing, relocating or altering any historical monument earlier this year.

The move by Governor Kay Ivey came after other southern cities took down Confederate statues following after white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine people during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.

Speaking to reporters and reported by WBHM, Attorney General Steve Marshall said that the mayor broke the law. That’s why the state is suing the City of Birmingham.

“This has nothing to do with the Confederacy, nothing to do with the long-term history of this particular monument itself,” Marshall said.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy, a hereditary association, paid for the monument in 1905. The City of Birmingham owns Linn Park.

Mayor Bell said the monument should be moved to a museum and displayed in a contextual perspective

“But not give it a place of prominence as something for us to be proud of, or waving over someone’s head that oh, we wish the good old days were here when people of my race were subjugated to Jim Crow laws,” Bell said.

The declaration calls for a $25,000 fine for violating the historical monument law.

What do you think, Birmingham?