HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NewsNation Now) — Crews took down a Confederate statue from a northern Alabama courthouse overnight Friday, following renewed calls for its removal after the police killing of George Floyd in May.
NewsNation affiliate WHNT reported that the monument removal at the Madison County Courthouse in Huntsville got underway at around midnight.
County Commissioner Roger Jones told WHNT earlier this week that the monument was slated to be taken down and moved to an area within the Maple Hill Cemetery where Confederate soldiers are buried.
The Madison County Commission and the Huntsville City Council had both agreed to relocate the monument amid months of protests calling for its removal. But a state law stalled the process.
Alabama’s Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 forbids the removal and relocation of monuments located on public property for 40 or more years.
The Confederate statue outside the Madison County Courthouse was put up in 1905. It was damaged and then later replaced in the 1960s.
The state law carries a $25,000 fine, which many Alabama cities have paid to immediately remove Confederate monuments on public property.
Local groups in Huntsville raised money to pay the fine, but Madison County officials sought a legal route for the monument’s removal, WHNT reported. The county commission requested a waiver through the state Committee on Alabama Monument Preservation back in June, but the committee said it was outside the scope of their authority.
The monument had been vandalized with red paint in August.
Madison County Commissioner JesHenry Malone told WHNT that the statue removal Thursday was conducted in accordance to state law.
“Although this timeline and process may not have been as swift as many would have liked, it was the legal manner in which to get this accomplished,” Malone said. “We know that government can be bureaucratic at times and often slower than what we would prefer, but we had no desire to violate our oaths of office to appease public sentiment.”
The city of Huntsville said the monument was relocated overnight to reduce impact on businesses and traffic.
There’s been a national reckoning over Confederate monuments and symbols since the May death of George Floyd after a former Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against his neck for several minutes.
NewsNation affiliate WHNT contributed to this report.