'I wish we had not passed it': Alabama lawmakers reflect on 2017 Monuments Preservation Bill

Two lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voted against the bill that prohibits local governments from removing monuments.

Posted: Jun 23, 2020 10:51 PM
Updated: Jun 23, 2020 10:53 PM

Right now, Madison County commissioners await the state's decision regarding their request for a waiver allowing the county to remove the confederate monument there.

The state has about 11 weeks to respond. It is still unclear if the county will get the approval.

All of this stems from the current nationwide movement to remove confederate statues, and 2017 Alabama law that prohibits the state monuments from being removed or relocated. 

"I don't think it was as well thought through," District 10 Representative Mike Ball said. "I think it was a political bill to begin with and drew a political backlash."

Back in 2017, both Representative Ball, a Republican, and Anthony Daniels, a Democrat, voted against the Monuments Preservation Bill.

Still the bill passed in the House 68-29. It eventually became law, prohibiting counties from removing monuments more than 20 years old and instituting a $25,000 fine if they did.

Fast forward to 2020, all across North Alabama and the country many people are calling for these monuments to come down. Representative Daniels said he is in support of relocating them, especially in Huntsville.

"If we're considered one of the most progressive cities in the state of Alabama, but we still have this statue that remains in front of our courthouse, It doesn't speak well to our community," Daniels said. 

Representative Ball said he did not support the bill because it was taking away rights from local governments.

"I wish we had not passed it," Ball said. "I don't think its necessary and that bill that's in place has a lot of work to be done to it, if not repealed."

He believes the issue of removing monuments became too political.

"When things shake up with the partisan divide, folks stop listening to each other," Ball said. "So there's not a lot of dialogue and discussion."

Ball said he hopes both sides of the aisle can put politics aside to find a common ground next year when the legislature reconvenes in Montgomery.

"Hopefully folks can sit down and say, okay what are we going to do? let's make this better," Ball said. 

Daniels said he wants it repealed. However, he said even if monuments across North Alabama come down, the fight against racial inequality is far from over.

"Don't be merely satisfied with the cosmetics," Daniels said. "Go beyond the cosmetics of it all and deal with the system."

So far, no monuments have been removed in North Alabama.

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