Lawmakers say to expect proposal to change Confederate memorial law

Updated: Jun. 17, 2020 at 7:53 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Democratic State Sen. Bobby Singleton, Greensboro, said to expect a proposal giving cities more control over moving Confederate monuments.

“If it’s offensive to other races, to a race of people, then we must be willing to talk about it and move it,” said Singleton. “I would love to see them removed and put it in proper places, and not to be a part of the image of the state of Alabama.”

The Memorial Preservation Act, passed in 2017 by the Alabama Legislature, protects architecturally significant buildings, memorial buildings, memorial streets, and monuments located on public property for 40 or more years.

Cities that violate the law will be fined $25,000 like has been seen in Birmingham and Mobile.

“We have cities and counties locked in,” he said. “We have them locked to where they have to come back to the state.”

Singleton said he expects there to be proposed legislation giving cities more authority to move the monument.

But state Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, believes the monuments should stay put and are a reminder of how far the nation has come.

“You know, the war between the states was one of the most important time periods, you know, of our country,” Dismukes said. “So I really hate to see our monuments going, being taken away and taken down.”

He believes it provides protections for the monuments.

“That protects monuments just not from the Civil War, but also from all time periods from civil rights memorials all the way back to Revolutionary War,” he said.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said he has talked with Singleton about ways to address the issue during the next regular legislative session.

“It also gives us time between now and the end to get all of the history behind the situation,” Marsh said. “I’m comfortable that we can come up with a solution that will preserve our history, but also conscious of the emotional aspect these things have to some of our citizens.”

Marsh said right now he wants to stop people from destroying the monuments.

“We have a law in place. Abide by the law,” he said. “If we need to change the law to allow cities, for instance, to move these to parks or whatever, if there’s some kind of a hindrance, let’s address that, but I do think there’s a balance to be had.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center says there are 107 Confederate monuments in Alabama.

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