The mayor of Birmingham, Alabama is using his political might to reverse laws enacted to protect Confederate monuments in his state. In fact, whether or not to keep them erected, he says, shouldn’t even be up for debate.
"We should not be debating about whether or not to keep a monument erected in defense of slavery in the 4th blackest city in America,” Mayor Randall Woodfin wrote on Twitter regarding Alabama’s 2017 Memorial Preservation Act. “It is offensive, it is wrong and it is the exact opposite of progress."
He also posted a video where he said, “On its face, this is a city park. It’s city property. The city owns the park. The city manages the park. The city allocates resources to the park. Any city facility, a local municipality, should have its right to do what is in the best interest of this park for its citizens. This law goes against that. The city of Birmingham was founded in 1871. It did not exist during the Civil War. So, placing the statue in this park, having the statue in this park commemorating something that... we didn’t even exist.”
Mayor Woodfin is speaking out after former Birmingham Mayor William Bell ordered a monument to be removed in August of 2017. In January of this year, due to the state’s 2017 Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, Birmingham was ordered by the Alabama Supreme Court to pay $25,000 for obstructing the view of the monument, according to AL.com.
Woodfin continued, "It’s hard to make that connection. I do want you all to connect this. We’re saying preserve something, we’re saying protect something that’s a slap in the face to black residents in this city, who are 74 percent of this city. In the fourth blackest city in America, you want to have a statue that’s in commemoration of relegating black people to being property and slaves. It’s offensive. It’s wrong. There shouldn’t be any amendments to this law. The question is should this law even exist.”
Watch the video below:
But it is an uphill fight for Woodfin. Currently, Alabama has dozens of Confederate statues and monuments in parks and public spaces statewide. So far the courts seem to be siding with the protective laws. The state Supreme Court’s order came from a ruling that Birmingham went against the state law when it obstructed the monument’s view by putting plywood panels in front of the obelisk. The court reversed a circuit judge’s ruling that struck down the 2017 law, calling it unconstitutional and a First Amendment violation.
Other states that have laws prohibiting the removal of Confederate monuments are Georgia, Misssippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
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