Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Friday that he is filing suit against Madison County over the recent removal of a Confederate monument from the county courthouse in Huntsville.
Marshall is alleging the removal of the monument violates the 2017 Memorial Preservation Act that banned the removal, alteration or destruction of any structure of historical significance more than 40 years old.
The county has argued the removal was legal because they applied for a permit from a committee created by the Preservation Act, a permit the commission argues was granted because the committee did not respond in 90 days.
Marshall maintains the committee only governs monuments 20-40 years old, and since the Madison County memorial was older than that, the removal was always illegal.
The text of the Preservation Act states the relevant committee governs monuments and structures aged “at least 20 years and less than 40 years.”
Madison County Commission Chair Dale Strong told Alabama Media Group on October 27 that he felt the county had acted legally in removing the monument, but did not issue a public comment on the matter Friday.
Violating the Memorial Preservation Act incurs a one-time $25,000 fine, as decided by the Alabama Supreme Court.
Institutions such as the City of Birmingham paid the fine after the city removed a Confederate monument in Linn Park during the height of the George Floyd protests.
Huntsville’s monument, over which Marshall is filing suit, was put up in 1905 and replaced in the late 1960s after it was accidentally destroyed. The inscription on the base of the memorial reads, “In memory of the heroes who fell in defense of the principles which gave birth to the Confederate cause.”
Madison County paid the City of Huntsville $33,000 to remove the monument in October. According to Alabama Media Group, it now rests at Maple Hill Cemetery near the graves of Confederate soldiers.
Removing the monument was supported by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and several prominent business groups in the Rocket City.
A release from Marshall’s office says Madison County was informed on October 27 that their action to remove the monument was considered illegal by the State of Alabama.
Marshall’s full lawsuit can be read here.