State law could block Confederate statue from going anywhere

Updated: Jun. 11, 2020 at 4:23 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - There are unanswered questions about the future of the Confederate monument outside the Madison County Courthouse.

County commissioners approved moving the statue to a new location on Wednesday. But the question is, will the state allow it?

Gravestones fill the rolling hills at the historic Maple Hill Cemetery in downtown Huntsville. The cemetery is the final resting spot for some Alabama governors, United States senators, and hundreds of Confederate soldiers and officers.

The burial ground could be the new location of the Madison County Confederate monument. “I think the best option would be to relocate it to Maple Hill Cemetery and have it in conjunction with the confederate cemetery right there. That preserves the history of the statue and makes our courthouse welcoming to everyone,” said District Four Commissioner Phil Vandiver at Wednesday’s commission meeting.

The age of the monument plays a big factor in whether it can legally leave courthouse grounds. The Confederate soldier holding a rifle outside of the courthouse is 115 years old.

Under the Memorial Preservation Act if a monument has been in place for less than 40 years, a public agency can request permission from a committee to move it.

But if a monument is older than 40 years, it cannot be removed, relocated, altered, or renamed. There are no exceptions under the law.

48 News reached out to Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office to see if they would accept the $25,000 raised by the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance to relocate the statue.

A spokesman said the AG’s office will enforce the law consistently against all violators.

According to Mike Lewis the spokesman for the Attorney General, their office is evaluating each case as it arises and will take action in accordance to the law.

If the attorney general does decide to sue Madison County for relocating the monument additional penalties could be tacked on to the $25,000 fine.

The Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance posted on Facebook “what a disappointment the Madison County’s Confederate monument resolution is.”

The post went on to say:

“One way that repressive regimes work is by wearing out the opposition with dodges, delays, and redirects. That’s what’s happening here. Alabama’s racist 2017 “Memorial Preservation Act” is working exactly as intended. It’s allowing local leaders to meekly claim the problem is out of their hands. But local and state authorities still don’t understand this moment and this movement. We’re not going away. The racist monuments are coming down one way or another.”

We will keep you updated as we learn more.

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