Alabama AG seeks to revive Confederate monument lawsuit

Published 1:41 pm Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Alabama attorney general’s office is trying to revive its lawsuit over the removal of a Confederate monument from outside the county courthouse in the city of Huntsville.

The state claimed in court documents that a judge shouldn’t have dismissed the suit just because someone anonymously paid a $25,000 fine that was owed by Madison County for removing the statue nearly a year ago, WHNT-TV reported.

Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office contends the county should be required to pay the penalty itself. A judge has scheduled a hearing for Friday afternoon on the state’s bid to reinstate the lawsuit.

The state sued the county last year seeking a $25,000 penalty that’s mandated under a state law that makes it illegal to remove or alter monuments. Legislators passed the law in 2017 amid a national movement to take down memorials honoring the Confederacy.

Madison County asked a judge to end the state’s suit after someone deposited $25,000 into a court account to pay the fine on Aug. 27. The county says the money isn’t from taxpayers or Madison County, but it hasn’t said where the funding came from.

Circuit Judge Claude Hundley dismissed the suit, but the state argues it needs to know who paid the fine to end the case. It also says the judge still needs to rule on its claim that Madison County broke the law when it moved the monument.

Erected in 1905 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the monument went up outside the Madison County Courthouse at a time when Confederate descendants were trying to portray the South’s cause in the Civil War as noble rather than linked to slavery. The statue was moved to a city-owned cemetery.

Demonstrators sought the removal of the Huntsville statue and other numerous Confederate statues around the nation last year amid nationwide protests against racial injustice following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Those efforts to take down statues honoring Southern figures from the Civil War continued Wednesday as work crews hoisted an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee off its giant pedestal in Virginia’s capital city of Richmond, cheered on by a crowd.