Florence activists say city's resolutions on Confederate monument won't do much

Activists have been protesting for five months to have the monument removed.

Posted: Oct 14, 2020 4:00 PM
Updated: Oct 14, 2020 7:42 PM

Tuesday night, Florence City Council members passed two resolutions addressing the Confederate monument that sits outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse. Activists say those resolutions won't do anything.

"This was our first official statement. I think every single council member and the mayor expressed interest in moving the statue," said Florence Mayor Elect, Andy Betterton.

Betterton and the rest of the Florence City Council members unanimously voted on two resolutions about this Confederate monument.

"One to ask the county commission to allow us to come on the property and the other to ask the Alabama Historical Monuments Commission to grant us a waiver to do so," said Betterton.

A 2017 Alabama law makes it illegal to remove any monuments that have been in the same place for decades. This Confederate monument in particular is technically city property, given to the city by the Daughters of the American Confederacy in the early 1900s, but it sits on county property.

"I don't see it as any new information. I don't see any benefits to the resolutions at all," said activist, Camille Bennett.

For the last 5 months, the county commission headed by chairman, Danny Pettus, have refused to bring any resolution giving the city legal permission to remove the monument to a vote. According to the 2017 law, no monument that's over 40 years old can be removed even with a waiver from the state.

"This is the same game of hot potato we've been playing for 5 months now, especially with the waiver process. We know that the committee that's assigned to approve waivers says that waivers can't apply to monuments that are over 40 years old, so we would be automatically disqualified since ours was drafted in 1903. Then, asking the county to draft a resolution, that question has been asked over and over again and they've made it clear that won't happen. So, I don't understand why this is good news," said Bennett.

Activists said they hope the city will just take the $25,000 fine and remove the monument in the middle of the night. While that's happened in other cities across the country, it's unclear if that will happen in Florence.

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