Birmingham councilman Johnathan Austin urges mayor to defy state law, remove Confederate monuments

Linn Park in Birmingham

The president of the Birmingham City Council called for the unlawful removal of Confederate monuments from public property on Tuesday.

Councilor Johnathan Austin
Councilor Johnathan Austin

According to, Council President Johnathan Austin asked Mayor William Bell to defy state law and remove the monuments at a city council meeting.

“We need to take them down,” Austin said. “We will deal with the repercussions after that.”

The monuments are “offensive to our citizens,” Austin continued.

Austin’s comments were made as the debate over confederate monuments has reignited nationwide in the response to the tragedy and chaos of the Charlottesville, Va., characterized starkly by the death of a 32-year-old woman after an Ohio man drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters who challenged a white nationalist rally.

Earlier this year, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law preventing  the removal of historic statues that are more than 40 years old from public spaces, making the removal of the confederate monument found in Birmingham’s Linn Park illegal.

“The goal of this bill is to protect all periods of Alabama’s history for our children and grandchildren to learn from,” said the bill’s sponsor Tuscaloosa Republican Sen. Gerald Allen back in March. “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.”

Nevertheless, Mayor Bell said he is actively looking into challenging the law.

“I am not in the business to break the law, I am charged to protect,” Bell said.


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