Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a lawsuit Friday over Madison County’s removal and relocation of a Confederate soldier statue that was once outside its courthouse.
Marshall is arguing the statue’s movement to a Huntsville cemetery violates the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017, which is meant to protect Confederate monuments.
In October, the Madison County Commission relocated the monument to Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, where Confederate soldiers are buried. Commissioners said the relocation was done in accordance with state law.
John Scales, a member of the Heritage Protection of North Alabama, told WAFF the group was trying to preserve the statue and keep it at the courthouse. Scales said he’s surprised it took so long, but he is pleased to see the state taking action.
“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 told WAFF.
David Odom, president of the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance, told WAFF this law never should have 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 told WAFF.
The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act prohibits relocating, removing, altering or renaming public buildings, streets and memorials that have been standing for more than 40 years and violations of the Act can result in a one-time fine of up to $25,000. Confederate monuments are not specifically mentioned in the Act, but it was enacted as some Southern states and cities began removing monuments and emblems of the Confederacy.
Marshall’s office is asking a judge to levy the $25,000 fine against the Madison County Commission.
Odom said the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance has helped raise the funds to pay the fine, if needed.
The attorney general’s office filed similar lawsuits earlier this year against Birmingham and Mobile.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.