Attorney General sues Madison County over relocation of Confederate monument

Madison County sued over monument removal

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - On October 23rd, the Confederate statue that sat outside of the Madison County Courthouse was removed and relocated to Maple Hill Cemetery, a few blocks away.

Now, Attorney General Steve Marshall has filed a lawsuit against Madison County for its removal of the monument in violation of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.

Attorney General Marshall announced on November 20th that the State of Alabama filed the lawsuit.

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

A press release from the Attorney General states the Act specifically charges the Attorney General with the duty of enforcement, as he is authorized to prosecute all civil actions necessary to protect the rights and interests of the State.

On October 23, upon authorization of the Madison County Commission, the historic monument dedicated to Confederate soldiers was removed from the grounds of the Madison County Courthouse. The monument, which was originally erected in 1905 and was accidently destroyed in 1966, was replaced with a replica in 1968.

Madison County was notified on October 27 of the Attorney General’s determination that the monument’s relocation violated state law, according to notice from the Attorney General.

A former Madison County commissioner told us the commission was in the clear to move it, since they hadn’t received a response from a state committee on a waiver request to move it.

The county commission submitted that waiver in July.

The original statue was put in place in 1905. It was broken and replaced in the 1960s.

John Scales, a member of the Heritage Protection of North Alabama, says the group was trying to preserve the statue and keep it at the courthouse. He says he’s surprised it took so long but he is pleased to see the state taking action over its removal.

“It looks like someone is finally enforcing the law. It’s kind of unfortunate we have county commissioners and city council people who are sworn to uphold the law and who in fact enforce the law against the rest of us. But when it comes to something that is politically inconvenient, they say well that doesn’t apply to us,” Scales said.

David Odom, president of the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance says this law should have never been passed.

“They need to just repeal this law all together. If the local government says, we want a confederate monument off our courthouse square, it should be up to the local government,” Odom said.

Odom tells us the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance, along with another organization, raised the funds to pay the fine, but so far have not heard from the commission. County commissioners told us the lawsuit was expected and they are ready for their day in court.

On October 23, upon authorization of the Madison County Commission, the historic monument dedicated to Confederate soldiers was removed from the grounds of the Madison County Courthouse. The monument, which was originally erected in 1905 and was accidently destroyed in 1966, was replaced with a replica in 1968.

Madison County was notified on October 27 of the Attorney General’s determination that the monument’s relocation violated state law, according to notice from the Attorney General.

The notice states the violation of the Act is punishable by a one-time fine of $25,000 per violation.

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