Repeal the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017

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In 2017, the state of Alabama passed the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. The purpose of this Act is to prevent the removal or alteration of any memorials or monuments on public land that are older than 20 years, unless approved by a state-level committee. It was passed in response to the City of Birmingham's attempt to remove its Confederate memorial. Cities that violate this law and make their own decisions about memorials and public art are subject to a $25000 fine. It was recently upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court.

Speaker of the State House, Mac McCutcheon, Governor Kay Ivey, and Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed: please recognize the harm inflicted by this law and repeal it, for the following reasons:

  • It violates the principle of local control and takes decisions about memorials and public art out of the hands of elected local officials.
  • Mourning those who died at war is entirely appropriate. But the appropriate place to memorialize those who died defending slavery and treason is in history textbooks and cemeteries. If these monuments were truly about remembering lives lost in the Civil War, they would also commemorate the slaves who shed their blood building this country, and the Union soldiers who died freeing them and restoring our United States.
  • Taking down monuments won't suddenly eliminate racism or the legacy of centuries of slavery and segregation. But symbols matter. The Daughters of the Confederacy and others who paid to erect them in the Jim Crow era knew exactly how much they matter.
  • As we slowly come to terms with our sad history of racial injustice and inequity, these monuments continue to be a slap in the face to people of color across the state. Cities that wish to begin the process of reconciliation by removing them should not have to pay a fine to do so.

In this moment of grave crisis, please help us come together and begin to heal. Let cities take down their Confederate monuments if they wish. Let local officials decide what should be displayed in public spaces. Repeal this law.