Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall condemned municipal leaders who take down Confederate monuments in violation of state law, months after Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson had the likeness of Adm. Raphael Semmes removed from downtown.
In a video released Monday, Nov. 23, Marshall discussed violations of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act statewide.
“First, any elected official who removes a historic monument or statue in violation of Alabama law has broken the law,” Marshall said. “He has not simply decided to pay a fee so that he can lawfully have the monument or statue removed. He has committed an illegal act.”
The Legislature alone is vested with the authority to make laws, Marshall said, and he urged those leaders who disagree with the law to work through the lawmaking body to change it.
“I urge my fellow Alabamians to take note of those casting votes and spending their tax dollars to violate a law of this state,” Marshall said. “It is now a question of when, not if, these same leaders will cast aside yet another law — being guided only by the political winds of the moment.”
Despite the video, Stimpson’s office said in a statement it believes the matter is finished.
“The city of Mobile resolved all issues related to the removal of the Admiral Raphael Semmes statue with Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office in June without litigation,” city spokesperson Jason Johnson wrote in a statement. “In July, a $25,000 civil penalty was paid entirely with funds donated by members of our community. If there are ongoing issues with decisions made in other parts of the state, those have no bearing on the city of Mobile.”
Marshall and the city signed a memorandum of understanding related to the issue on June 15.
Stimpson had the Semmes statue removed overnight on June 4 amid the threat of protests over its presence at the intersection of Royal and Government streets.
The statue, commissioned in 1900 by a Confederate veterans group and rededicated in 2000 by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Raphael Semmes Camp #11, was moved to the History Museum of Mobile, where the city believes proper context for the monument can be added.
In responding to other municipalities following the state’s bigger cities in removing statues and monuments, Marshall warned of these places allowing “the mob to take over.”
“It all starts with subtle non-enforcement of laws and ordinances, and quickly devolves into utter lawlessness,” he said. “As a state, we must remain vigilant that those elected to govern our localities do not lead us slowly down the same road.”
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