The attorney general of Alabama sued the city of Birmingham and its mayor on Wednesday over their effort to block a Confederate monument with plywood walls, AL.com reported Wednesday.
Following Saturday’s protest in Charlottesville, Virginia against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park, Birmingham Mayor William Bell moved to obscure his own city’s Confederate monument from view.
Due to a recent state law barring the removal or alteration of monuments located on public land for 40 years or more without a state committee’s approval, however, Bell couldn’t legally order the monument removed, as Baltimore and other localities have done in the wake of the tumultuous weekend in Charlottesville, which left one woman dead after a man who had been photographed with white supremacists allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.
Instead, Bell covered up the monument to Confederate veterans, first with tarps and then with wooden walls erected by city workers overnight Tuesday. Bell told reporters earlier in the day that his immediate goal was to temporarily cover the monument “until such time that we can tell the full story of slavery, the full story of what the Confederacy really meant.”
“What the Confederacy represented was the maintaining of individuals as being less than human, of promoting a supremacy doctrine that is no longer valid, and wasn’t valid then,” he added.
In a statement reported by AL.com Wednesday, however, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said that his office had “determined that by affixing tarps and placing plywood around the Linn Park memorial such that it is hidden from view, the defendants have ‘altered’ or ‘otherwise disturbed’ the memorial in violation of the letter and spirit of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.”
The law allows for a $25,000 penalty for every day the memorial is covered, should the city be found to have violated it.
Bell told the publication: “We look forward to the court system clarifying the rights and power of a municipality to control its parks absent state intervention.”
Read the attorney general’s suit below, via Al.com: