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Birmingham drops riot charge against comedian

A Confederate monument in Birmingham is removed by the city.

The city of Birmingham on Wednesday dropped a misdemeanor charge of inciting a riot against comedian Jermaine “Funnymaine” Johnson. 

Johnson was charged in connection with a peaceful protest on May 31 that resulted in destruction of property and an attempt to pull down the Confederate monument.

“Thank you to the city of Birmingham — the citizens,” Johnson said in a televised interview on WVTM 13. “Y’all stepped up. Y’all showed out. You deserve better. You’re going to get it. Change is on the way and you should be proud.” 

Johnson had insinuated that protesters should tear down the Confederate monument in the city’s Linn Park, and he spoke there during a peaceful protest over the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. But the peaceful protest turned violent later in the evening, with some remaining and setting fire to several properties and attacking two journalists. 

“If you think that I incited violence and you don’t think monuments like this, and the policies behind it, haven’t incited violence for decades, you just need to think again,” Johnson told WVTM 13 the day after the protest. 

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin later ordered the monument removed to an undisclosed location. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a lawsuit against the city to collect a $25,000 fine for removing the monument, under the Alabama Monuments Preservation Act. 

Since then, the city of Mobile agreed to pay the same $25,000 fine and removed a Confederate monument in that city, and the Madison County Commission voted to submit an application to the Committee on Alabama Monument Protection in hopes of getting approval to relocate the Confederate monument outside the courthouse in Huntsville.

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Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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