As protests across Alabama continued this week, one law enforcement official was killed and the state’s attorney general has filed suit against the city of Birmingham after vandals there apparently followed the advice of a university professor and went after a Confederate monument that the city then removed.
In Moody, a city just east of Birmingham, Sgt. Stephen Williams was shot and killed Tuesday night during an incident at a Super 8 motel. Two arrests have been made in connection with that crime, but they had not been identified early Wednesday.
Elsewhere, Attorney General Steve Marshall said the city violated the state’s Monument Preservation Act when it removed the 115-year-old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors obelisk that stood in Linn Park. The removal came after vandals defaced the memorial with spray paint last Sunday night.
The kerfuffle over the Birmingham monument comes as several other Alabama landmarks have been targeted by protests that have erupted around the country since George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in police custody in Minneapolis last week. The Linn Park memorial was targeted hours after Sarah Parcak, an Egyptologist at the University of Alabama Birmingham tweeted a sketch of how protestors can topple monuments.
“There might be one just like this in downtown Birmingham!” Ms. Parcak tweeted on May 31. “What a coincidence. Can someone please show this thread to the folks there.”
It appeared Wednesday that Birmingham would pay the $25,000 fine associated with the Preservation Act, which the legislature enacted in 2017 and that has been upheld by the state Supreme Court. Mayor Randall Woodfin followed through Monday evening on a promise to remove the statue, as a crane methodically finished removing the three pieces shortly before midnight, according to local news reports.
Mr. Woodfin noted the Soldiers and Sailors obelisk would not be destroyed, but rather donated to a Civil War museum or possibly to an organization like the Daughters of the Confederacy. Only the base of the 52-feet high obelisk remains, and Mr. Woodfin has now imposed a curfew in Birmingham.
In other action, protestors tore down a statue of Robert E. Lee that stood outside a high school named after the Confederate general in Montgomery, and defaced the statue of a Confederate admiral in Mobile. That graffiti had been removed Wednesday by city workers.
A 20-year-old white male, Mitchell Bond, wearing a T-shirt depicting Bill Clinton firing a gun, was arrested by Mobile police and charged with a misdemeanor after allegedly being caught on video spray-painting on the statue of Adm. Raphael Semmes, according to authorities.
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