A Confederate monument that’s stood in Birmingham’s Linn Park for 110 years may be coming down.
The Birmingham Park and Recreation Board voted unanimously today to have city attorneys determine whether there are legal impediments to moving the monument.
Birmingham City Council President Jonathan Austin says monuments to the Confederacy “create anxiety for people.”
“I believe that it is in the best interest of the city of Birmingham to look at any symbols of hatred and division in our community,” says Austin. He adds the city shouldn’t forget history, but “seek to do our best to rectify the wrongs and atrocities that took place.”
Across the country, Confederate flags and monuments have come under scrutiny after the shooting deaths of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina. The man charged in their deaths, Dylan Roof, had been photographed with Confederate flags before the shooting.
Governor Robert Bentley removed the Confederate flags flying over the state capitol last week. Austin called it “the right decision.”
“We have come a long way in the last 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement,” says Austin. “We still have a long way to go, but part of that healing process is to really look at those things that have for so long divided our communities.”
Board members will wait to make any moves until they hear back from the city attorney’s office.
It’s unclear what would happen next if the city green-lights removing the Confederate monument. Birmingham Park and Recreation Board spokesman Stanley Robinson says it ultimately will depend on whether the board can find an organization to pay for the monument’s removal.
Board Member and former Birmingham mayor Bernard Kincaid says the board hopes some historical organization, such as local branches of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, will take possession of the monument and move it at their own expense.
“It cannot go back into another public park,” says Kincaid. “It has to be removed from Linn Park, to be placed wherever they determine to be an appropriate site.”
As of today, Robinson says no one from the city has discussed the idea with any of the five active chapters of the Daughters of the Confederacy in the Birmingham area.
The Pelham Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy originally paid for the monument in 1905.
Additional reporting from Stephanie Beckett and the Associated Press.