HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Alabama Supreme Court reversed a Circuit Court decision over a Birmingham Confederate monument. The Wednesday ruling upholds the Memorial Preservation Act.
The 2017 law prevents the removal or alteration of memorial that have stood for more than 40 years.
Former Birmingham Mayor William Bell ordered the monument in Linn Park to be covered with plywood in 2017. In January 2018, a circuit court judge ruled in favor of the city, saying the law was unenforceable because it violates local communities’ free speech rights.
The city of Birmingham was fined $25,000.
In the opinion of the court, one of the judges wrote the $25,000 fine may not be enough to keep other cities from violating the state law.
“The city of Birmingham broke the state law," said Alabama Senator Gerald Allen of District 21. "Of course what took place there is the reason why the Supreme Court ruled on this issue the way they did.”
"If I can speak to Governor Ivey right now I would say, ‘Governor Ivey, take down these statues,' said the President of the Madison County chapter of the NAACP.
Rick Journey, Director of Communications in the Office of Public Information for the city of Birmingham released this statement:
“We are strongly disappointed with the ruling of the Alabama Supreme Court. This ruling appears to be less about the rule of law and more about politics. We are carefully reviewing the opinion to determine our next step, but clearly the citizens of Birmingham should have the final decision about what happens with monuments on Birmingham city grounds.”
Catherine Hereford, a member of the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance, released this statement:
“One of the most aggravating things about this debate is the “you can’t erase history” thing. No, you can’t. People in New Orleans still remember who won and who lost the civil war without Lee looking down over them. The Confederate monument at the Madison County Courthouse was erected as a form of racist bullying during the same time that lynchings were happening for the same reason. This law is an extension of the racist bullying. It’s inherently discriminatory because the statues it protects are inherently racist. The fact that Madison County’s monument is at the courthouse, the place that should embody justice for ALL citizens, is ridiculous. Obviously a more appropriate place would be the Veterans Memorial. The inscription next to it honoring the cause of the Confederacy is an affront to human decency. We should resist this law as individuals, and as a city that claims to love equality and freedom. We’ll continue to raise money to pay the fine to have it moved. The people responsible for this are dying out along with their way of thinking. In spite of this law, sooner or later, the statue at the Madison County Courthouse will come down.”