Demopolis council asks AG opinion on statue

Published 10:03 am Friday, June 9, 2017

The debate over the future of a Confederate monument in Demopolis will extend to Montgomery as local officials seek an opinion from the Attorney General following the recent passage of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.

Gov. Kay Ivey has signed the bill approving the act which bars the removal, renaming, removal and alteration of monuments, memorial streets, memorial buildings and architecturally significant buildings located on public property for 40 or more years.

In April, the Demopolis City Council voted to make changes to the local monument after it was damaged by a police vehicle last summer. Council members are asking their attorney to communicate with the attorney general’s office to ensure the city’s plan for the monument may proceed. The city’s vote to approve the changes came in April while Ivey signed the AMPA in May.

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“We have to vote on a resolution to get an opinion and to open the dialog with the attorney general’s office,” said Mayor Pro-tem Charles Jones.

Several residents spoke at the council wanting clarification following the passage of the AMPA.

Harold Park submitted to each council member a petition signed by those in support of maintaining the memorial. He said residents from states across the nation had signed the petition via various means, including social media.

Park also asked if any work has been done in moving forward with the city council’s approved plan. With Mayor John Laney absent from the meeting, Jones said he did not have that information.

Local attorney Barrown Lankster also spoke, saying he did not feel the act could be enforced retroactively and commended the council for seeking the AG opinion.

Douglas Null also asked the council about what questions would be asked of the attorney general.

“Seventy-five percent of the statue is still there and according to the new law, we can’t remove it, add to it, change it. What we have there now may be damaged, but it is still a monument,” Null said.

Jones said the city attorney would work to get the answers to all those questions.

Other items discussed by the council included:

• announcing that a new fire truck has been delivered to Station 3. Firefighters are currently training on the new truck and once completed an older truck will be placed as surplus property.

• Building Inspector Julius Rembert said a structure on Chestnut Street has been demolished as part of the city’s dilapidated housing project. He said the department is in the process of locating deeds and filing liens on properties recently added to that list.

• approving the closure of streets related to this summer’s Freedom on the River event.

• approving a budget adjustment for the Dempolis Police Department related to overtime compensation at Shelton State Community College’s facility at the Sportsplex.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 15, 5:15 p.m., at Rooster Hall.