- The Washington Times - Monday, June 1, 2020

The mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, bowed to protesters Monday, choosing instead to defy the state and tear down a Confederate monument that the city did not have the authority to remove.

Less than a day after rioters tried to tear down the 115-year-old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument in Birmingham’s Linn Park, Mayor Randall Woodfin decided to take the monument down, saying civil peace mattered more than legal rights.

By Monday evening, according to multiple local media reports, concrete barricades were blocking off the streets surrounding Linn Park and a large crane was in front of the monument.

It wasn’t clear when the tearing down would be complete, though Al.com set up a live feed at the site.

Mr. Woodfin said the rioting the previous weekend had made the monument too dangerous to allow to remain standing.

“Moving forward, what took place in the park put many of the residents and the peaceful protesters in physical danger. In addition to that, it could possibly put our officers in danger,” he said.

The now-majority-black city had lost a legal fight with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office in its efforts to remove the statue, because of a state law barring cities from removing Confederate statues.

The City of Birmingham will swallow the legal consequences of removing the statue anyway, the mayor said.

“In order to prevent more civil unrest, it is very imperative that we remove this statue in Linn Park. That has a cost to it,” Mr. Woodfin said. “I understand the AG’s office can bring a civil suit against the city and if there’s a judgement rendered from a judge, then we should be held accountable and I am willing to accept that because that is a lower cost than civil unrest in our city.”

According to state attorney general Steve Marshall, the Alabama Monuments Preservation Act only has one consequence of a violation by a city — a one-time fine of $25,000.

Mr. Marshall said that if Birmingham went ahead with the removal, he would start the legal procedures — which is apparently fine by the mayor.

The violent protests in recent days went viral nationally when a Egyptology professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham tweeted detailed technical instructions on how to tear down an obelisk.

The allusive and snarky tweets by Sarah Parcak prompted a furious backlash on Twitter in part because, although she was explicit in places about writing about the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument, her language and logic (if not necessarily the technical feasibility) could apply just as well to the Washington Monument.

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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