Birmingham defies Alabama law to remove Confederate monument targeted during George Floyd protest

Birmingham, Ala., officials ordered a Confederate monument that was targeted by demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd to be taken down in defiance of state law, according to multiple reports.

Protesters gathered around the 115-year-old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park in Birmingham, defacing it and attacking its base Sunday night, The New York Times reported. Protesters marched through the area and toppled a statue of Charles Linn, a city founder who was in the Confederate Navy during the Civil War.

However, demonstrators failed to bring down an obelisk at the center of the monument Sunday night. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin (D) asked the crowd to refrain from tearing down the larger monument so that city officials could organize its removal, NPR reported.

Beginning Monday night, workers hired by the city removed the obelisk piece by piece, according to NPR. By Tuesday morning, only the base of the monument remained. 

Monday marked Jefferson Davis Day in Alabama, the state holiday honoring the Confederate leader.

The statue has been the subject of a court battle between the city and Alabama state officials, according to The New York Times. The statue’s removal defies the Alabama Monuments Preservation Act.

The monument was covered with a tarp during the lawsuit between the city and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled last year that the city would pay a $25,000 fine for obstructing the monument, according to The New York Times.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has vowed to file a civil complaint against Birmingham officials if the monument was removed.  

Woodfin said Monday, “In order to prevent more civil unrest, it is very imperative that we remove this statue,” reported.

“I understand the AG’s office can bring a civil suit against the city, and if there’s a judgement rendered from a judge, then we should be held accountable, and I am willing to accept that because that is a lower cost than civil unrest in our city,” he continued.

Protests across the country have broken out over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after an officer knelt on his neck until he was unresponsive. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter last week.

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