A member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans told reporters Sunday it was just a coincidence that he unveiled a new monument to the Confederacy in Alabama so soon after a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“This was planned several months ago,” David Coggins, on whose private land the monument to “Unknown Alabama Confederate Soldiers” was unveiled Sunday, told NBC News.
“Matter of fact, the monument was ordered last year, and it’s taken this long to get it in the ground and ready to unveil,” he added.
On August 12, Heather Heyer was killed when a man who had earlier been photographed with a white nationalist group allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. The white nationalist rally in Charlottesville was ostensibly planned to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville.
The unveiling Sunday in Crenshaw County, Alabama was attended by more than 500 people, NBC reported, though AL.com put the number at more than 200.
Individuals in attendance included members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a local chapter of the Order of Confederate Rose and affiliates of the Three Percenter militia movement, AL.com noted.
The monument’s erection comes on the heels of a lawsuit by Alabama’s attorney general against the mayor and city of Birmingham. The attorney general accused Mayor William Bell of improperly covering up a Confederate monument in the city with plywood and tarp. In May 2017, the state passed a law barring the removal or alteration of monuments located on public property for more than 40 years without the approval of a state committee.
On Aug. 16, when the suit was filed against Birmingham, Bell said “We look forward to the court system clarifying the rights and power of a municipality to control its parks absent state intervention.”
As of Thursday, WIAT reported, “Court documents do not indicate that the city has filed a response at this time.”