Alabama AG Threatens to Sue City Officials for Removing Confederate President's Name From Avenue
Last month, the Alabama capital city of Montgomery moved to rename its ‘Jeff Davis Avenue,’ a street named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The street is now dedicated to Fred D. Gray, the 90-year-old famed civil rights attorney who once represented key figures like Rosa Parks and grew up on the street in question.
The office of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has invoked a 2017 law and fined the city of Montgomery $25,000 for changing the name of the street once known as ‘Jeff Davis Avenue,’ according to a letter issued to city officials.
Per the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, cities and counties in the state are prohibited from the removal or alteration of historic memorials and monuments, which includes memorial streets.
However, the law does lay out what constitutes a memorial, or whether a memorial to Confederate troops and the Confederate States of America would be covered.
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed told the Associated Press that while many groups across the country have offered to pay the fine, the city official is not quite sure how to proceed with the matter at the moment.
“Should we pay the fine when we see it as an unjust law?” Reed posed to the outlet. “We’re certainly considering taking the matter to court because it takes away home rule for municipalities.”
Montgomery, a city with a majority Black population and rich historical ties to the US Civil Rights movement, is not the first city in Alabama to potentially violate this recent law.
Just last year, Mobile agreed to pay the $25,000 fine to remove a statue of Raphael Semmes, a Confederate admiral, from public property within the city. Prior to that, Birmingham was fined for the removal of the Confederate Soldiers & Sailors Monument from Linn Park.
Similarly, Montgomery County, which has Montgomery as its county seat, is also facing possible fines for choosing to rename three schools that are presently named after former Confederates.
The schools subject to being renamed are Jefferson Davis High School, Robert E. Lee High School, and Sidney Lanier High School.