Birmingham Mayor Explains Removal Of Confederate Statue, Says 'Revisionist History Should Be Corrected'

The mayor of Birmingham, Alabama explained Tuesday his reasons for removing the Confederate statue in the city, that is protected under state law.

"I'm experiencing some civil unrest in my city and the center of that civil unrest started from not just the death of George Floyd, but the symbolism of this statue," Mayor Randall Woodfin said on MSNBC.

"Many note that the city of Birmingham has a high black population here in our community and in our city. They feel this statue represents the wrong thing moving forward as well as what should be in an actual city park," Woodfin said, adding that people should know that Birmingham was founded in 1871, seven years after the Civil War ended. "So even from that standpoint revisionist history should be corrected and it should be known that this type of symbolism is offensive to people who were regulated through slavery."

The statue, located in Linn Park, was covered in graffiti and damaged on Sunday night during a protest for George Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 in Minneapolis after white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. Protestors also attempted to tear the statue down via a rope tied to the back of a pickup truck, but where unsuccessful.

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However, the ground did topple a second statue of Charles Linn, one of Birmingham's founders and the park's namesake.

But as protestors continued to work on removing the 50-foot Confederate Sailors and Soldiers Monument, which was erected 115 years ago, Woodfin arrived to ask protesters to halt their attempts in trying to remove it themselves.

"Allow me to finish the job for you," the mayor said, adding "I wanted you to hear it directly from me, but I need you to stand down."

Woodfin also addressed the removal of the monument at a press conference Tuesday, citing that he was "very moved by the outpouring of support."

"This action is a very, very powerful symbol of our city's desire to move beyond the pain of the past and uniting into the future," Woodfin said, adding that the location of the monument has not and will not be disclosed to the public. The city removed the monument overnight.

The monument is protected under Alabama's Monument Preservation Act, which prohibits its removal and imposes a $25,000 fine for doing so. State Attorney General Steven Marshall said in a statement Monday that Birmingham would be assessed the fine if they removed the statue.

"The Alabama Monuments Preservation Act provides a singular avenue for enforcement — the filing of a civil complaint in pursuit of a fine, which the Alabama Supreme Court has determined to be a one-time assessment of $25,000. The Act authorizes no additional relief," Marshall said in a statement.

"Should the City of Birmingham proceed with the removal of the monument in
question, based upon multiple conversations I have had today, city leaders understand I will perform the duties assigned to me by the Act to pursue a new civil complaint against the City," the attorney general said, adding that he has offered Birmingham officials his support to "restore peace to the city."

Speaking to AL.com, Woodfin said he is aware that the attorney general's office can file a civil suit against the city for removing the statue. However, he said, "if there's a judgment rendered from a judge then we should be held accountable, and I am willing to accept that because that is a lower cost than civil unrest in our city."

Newsweek reached out to Marshall and Governor Kay Ivey for comments now that the monument has been removed, but they did not respond back in time for publication.

 32nd Annual "A Candle in the Dark" Gala
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 15: Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama Randall Woodfin attends Morehouse College 32nd Annual A Candle In The Dark Gala at The Hyatt Regency Atlanta on February 15, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images) Paras Griffin/Getty
Birmingham Mayor Explains Removal Of Confederate Statue, Says 'Revisionist History Should Be Corrected' | U.S.