Birmingham dismantles Confederate monument that stood for 115 years

Man stands at base of Confederate
Monument in Birmingham Linn Park

The base of a Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument in Alabama’s largest city was all that remained Tuesday morning after crews worked overnight to dismantle it. The monument was built by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1905.
Workers began Monday night, June 1, 2020, removing the top portion of the 56 foot tall obelisk in pieces in Birmingham’s Linn Park, about a day after protesters tried to remove it themselves during a protest over police brutality, including the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
During Sunday night’s demonstrations, the statue of George Linn, a Confederate naval commander and past mayor of Birmingham, for whom the downtown park was named, was also toppled. On Monday morning the damaged statue was lying on the ground near its former pedestal.
Live video filmed by and other Birmingham TV outlets overnight showed a flatbed truck hauling off the stone pieces in the early morning hours. It’s unclear where the pieces were being taken.
The monument had been the subject of a court battle between the city of Birmingham and the state before protesters tried to bring it down Sunday.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the city faces a fine for violating a state law that bans the removal of Confederate and other long-standing monuments. Woodfin said the cost of a fine would be more affordable than the cost of continued unrest in the city.
The Confederate memorial monument that has been the source of litigation and debate in downtown Birmingham for years was dismantled by the city on Monday night.
The removal of the monument followed Sunday night’s demonstrations, which included an effort to take down the monument. During the demonstration, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin appeared and told demonstrators the city would remove the monument on Monday.
City leaders, activists and others have called for the monument’s removal for years, but Alabama lawmakers passed a law aimed at protecting monuments like the one that has stood for more than a century in Linn Park.
The high-profile fight over the monument has been seen by many in the Birmingham business community as another barrier to progress and a stain on the city’s national perception as it seeks to combat stereotypes while recruiting talent and companies to the Magic City.
That law resulted in a lawsuit over the city’s prior installation of a covering to obscure view of the statue, triggering a $25,000 fine. But a court ruled the one-time $25,000 fine is the only punishment allowed for the violation of the law. Alabama lawmakers filed a bill earlier this year to allow tougher penalties, but the legislative session was disrupted by Covid-19 and the law did not pass.
On Monday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said if the city proceeded with the removal of the monument, he would perform the duties assigned to him in the act and pursue a new civil complaint against the city, which would trigger another $25,000 fine if successful.
By Tuesday morning, more than $50,000 had already been raised in Birmingham to cover the cost of the fines. Mayor Woodfin said he was looking for a museum or cemetery that would be interested in accepting the monument.
A demonstration on Monday night in Montgomery, Alabama led to the removal and damaging of a statue of General Robert E. Lee , which stood in front of the high school named for him in that city. The students at the school are now predominantly Black. Students and parents have been petitioning the school board for many years to change the name of the school.
Some of the persons involved in pulling down the Robert E. Lee statue were arrested and charged by city police.

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