Confederate monuments coming down around South amid protests

Confederate monuments coming down around South amid protests

Confederate monuments coming down around South amid protests

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Sarah Collins Rudolph thought she’d never see what happened in her hometown: Prompted by protests, the city removed a 115-year-old Confederate monument near where her sister and three other black girls died in a racist church bombing in 1963.

A wave of Confederate memorial removals that began after a white supremacist killed nine black people at a Bible study in a church in South Carolina in 2015 is again rolling, with more relics of the Old South being removed from public view after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota.

In Birmingham, where Rudolph lives, the graffiti-covered, pocked base of a massive Confederate monument was all that remained Tuesday after crews dismantled the towering obelisk and trucked it away in pieces overnight. Other symbols came down elsewhere, leaving an empty pedestal in Virginia and a bare flagpole in Florida.

Rudolph, whose sister Addie Mae Collins died in the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church, had to see the sight for herself. She lowered a protective face mask to take in the absence of an edifice she long considered a symbol of oppression.

“I’m glad it’s been removed because it has been so long, and we know that it’s a hate monument,” said Rudolph, 69. “It didn’t represent the blacks. It just represented the hard times back there a long time ago.”

Confederate symbols across the South have been targeted for vandalism during demonstrations sparked by Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis. Now, even some of their longtime defenders have decided to remove them.

In Alexandria, Virginia, it was the United Daughters of the Confederacy that took action early Tuesday, removing the statue of a soldier gazing south from Old Town since 1889. And outside Tampa, Florida, a Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter lowered a huge Confederate battle flag that has long been flown in view of two interstate highways.

Birmingham took down the obelisk a day after protesters tried to remove the monument themselves, during one of the many nationwide protests. Crews were preparing to finish the job by pulling up the base.

The monument had been the subject of a protracted court battle between the city and state, which passed a law to protect Confederate icons after rebel monuments were challenged and removed following the killings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the city of Birmingham, seeking to fine the city $25,000 for violating the state law. Mayor Randall Woodfin said earlier this week that the fine was more affordable than the cost of continued unrest in the city. Online fundraising drives have raised more than enough money to pay the fine.

The state lawsuit does not specifically ask Birmingham to restore the monument.

Work to remove the monument began Monday, which was Alabama’s holiday honouring Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who was sworn in Montgomery. There, on the same day, someone knocked over a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee outside a mostly black high school named for him.

Four people were arrested on criminal mischief charges, and the toppled statue was removed.

In Alexandria, a city spokesman said the United Daughters of the Confederacy informed the city on Monday that it would remove the statue, and the city’s only role was to provide traffic support. By morning, the pedestal was all that was left. City officials were not told where the statue was taken.

Titled “Appomattox,” it depicts a solitary Confederate soldier, his head bowed slightly. In 1890, a state law was passed barring local officials from ever removing it. That law was repealed earlier this year.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson tweeted photos of the removal on Tuesday, saying “Alexandria, like all great cities, is constantly changing and evolving.”

In Birmingham, Rudolph saw the removal of the monument as unfinished business from decades ago. The more than 50-foot-tall (15-meter-tall) memorial to Confederate soldiers and sailors was located just blocks from the church where Rudolph was badly injured and her sister died when a bomb went off on a Sunday morning decades ago.

“The things that we were fighting for in the ‘60s aren’t solved yet,” said Rudolph, who testified against Ku Klux Klansmen convicted in the bombing. “We shouldn’t be treated the way they treat us.”

___

Associated Press writers Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama; and Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Virginia; contributed to this report.

Jay Reeves, The Associated Press

racism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

Kyla Gibson with her boyfriend Gavin Hardy. (Photo used with permission)
Sylvan Lake couple lose ‘fur babies’ to house fire

‘They were our world and nothing will ever replace them,’ Kyla Gibson said of her three pets

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported an additional 456 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Five new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, two in Red Deer

Province reports 456 new cases of COVID-19

Businesses are getting creative to keep cash flowing. (File photo)
Central Albertan lobbying government to help those affected by CERB repayments

Catherine Hay says she received a letter in November saying she had to completely repay the benefit

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. Public opposition to the Alberta government’s plans to expand coal mining in the Rocky Mountains appears to be growing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File
Alberta cancels coal leases, pauses future sales, as opposition increases

New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt welcomed the suspension

File photo
Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit recovers valuable stolen property

Property valued at over $50,000 recovered by Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit.

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File)
First Nations seek to intervene in court challenge of coal policy removal

Bearspaw, Ermineskin and Whitefish First Nations are among those looking to intervene

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

Most Read