The Alabama Senate approved a bill Thursday that would block attempts to change or remove statues, memorials and monuments that are over 20 years old.
The bill, sponsored by Tuscaloosa Republican Sen. Gerald Allen, has been the subject of controversy since it protects monuments with ties to the Confederate States of America.
“The goal of this bill is to protect all periods of Alabama’s history for our children and grandchildren to learn from,” said Allen. “Too often, in convulsions of political correctness, a local official will hastily rip down a monument or a statue because it offends the sensibilities of someone, somewhere.”
Allen and other proponents of the bill argue that it preserves state history, while critics point say such monuments are offensive due to their connection to slavery.
“History isn’t always pleasant and our forbearers have not always acted with honor. But healing in the present is not found by erasing the past,” he said. “Only if our past is understood and remembered may we be inspired by its examples of heroism, and yes, sobered by its episodes of oppression. This proposal prevents the hasty and thoughtless destruction of historical markers so that we and our descendants may continue to learn from the past, in order to create a better future.”
Allen has sponsored similar bills the past two sessions after Gov. Robert Bentley removed Confederate flags from the state Capitol. Previous versions of the bill would protect monuments that were at least 50 years old.
Allen said he has discussed the proposition with other lawmakers over the past year and that the 2017 version of his bill “reflects their input.”
With the Senate’s approval, the bill now moves on to the House.