Birmingham Mayor Criticizes Law Protecting Confederate Monuments, Says One Should Not Exist in America's Fourth Blackest City

Birmingham Confederate Monument
Brian Burrell pauses to look at a Confederate monument in Linn Park. on August 18, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Hal Yeager/Getty

The mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, publicly condemned a state law that protects Confederate monuments Tuesday, arguing that his city's majority-black population should not have to live with a monument that, in his view, honors a pro-slavery cause.

Randall Woodfin, elected mayor of Birmingham in 2017, criticized a law called the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017, which, according to AL.com, prohibits local governments from moving historically relevant public monuments older than 40 years without the express approval of the state government.

The Associated Press reported that Woodfin made his remarks on the same day that legislators in the state capital of Montgomery discussed a proposal to raise the fine or violating the law protecting monuments.

"Any city facility, a local municipality, should have its right to do what is in the best interest of this park for its citizens," Woodfin said. "This law goes against that. The city of Birmingham was founded in 1871. It did not exist during the Civil War."

Birmingham now faces a fine of $25,000 for covering a 52-foot monument in its Linn Park that was erected in 1905 to honor veterans of the Confederate States military, according to the Associated Press. This act is in violation of state law.

Birmingham is the largest city in the state of Alabama. More than 70 percent of its population of around 200,000 people self-identify as African American, according to the latest census data.

Woodfin on Tuesday also said that it was an insult to the city's African American residents to have to live somewhere with a public monument that, he added, honors people who denied the humanity of their ancestors.

"We're saying preserve something ... that's a slap in the face to black residents in this city, who are 74 percent of this city," he said. "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?"

Woodfin shared a video clip of his remarks on his Twitter account Wednesday morning.

"I am fighting to attract and keep the best and brightest talent to our welcoming city, not protecting hurtful monuments of the past," the mayor wrote later.

Birmingham Mayor Criticizes Law Protecting Confederate Monuments, Says One Should Not Exist in America's Fourth Blackest City | U.S.