Alabama’s attorney general wants Montgomery, the state’s capital city, to pay a fine or face a lawsuit for renaming a street that honors the president of the confederacy.
CNN reported that Montgomery officials in October replaced the Jefferson Davis Avenue sign and renamed the street for Fred D. Gray, a local civil rights leader.
Gray, an attorney, grew up on that same street, according to AL.com. He represented Rosa Parks and other activists during the civil rights era, most famously during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, whose 66th anniversary was marked Dec. 1. But the attorney general said the switch violates a state law that protects Confederate monuments and memorials.
The AG’s office issued a $25,000 fine, stating in a Nov. 5 letter to city officials that it was a one-time fine for violating the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017. The letter warned that failure to pay the fine could result in a lawsuit.
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, the city’s first Black mayor, defended the move.
"We thought it was the right thing to do," Reed told CNN. "We want to move forward with it as we try to seek a new image for Montgomery and a new beginning, and one focused more on the economic opportunities, our investments in public education and our investments in our people in our community, as opposed to relics of the past."
The decision to rename the street started in December 2020 and received unanimous approval from the Montgomery City Council.
Donors from across the county have offered to pay the fine on the city’s behalf. But city officials have not decided if they will pay the fine.
“It was important that we show, not only our residents here, but people from afar that this is a new Montgomery,” Reed said. “We want to honor those heroes that have fought to make this union as perfect as it can be. When I see a lot of the Confederate symbols that we have in the city, it sends a message that we are focused on the lost cause as opposed to those things that bring us together under the Stars and Stripes.”