A Democratic state representative is asking Alabamians to show support for repealing the Memorial Preservation Act, which makes it illegal for cities and counties to remove Confederate monuments, by signing a Change.org petition and calling their local representatives and senators.
Rep. Juandalynn Givan has prefiled a bill, HB8, which would repeal the Act and loosen restrictions currently in place. Those restrictions require anyone wishing to move or alter a monument in any way to either get permission from a committee or pay a $25,000 fine.
“I feel that HB8, once passed, would demonstrate to the state and the entire world that we are taking the steps to heal the wounds of the past and mend race relations in this great state,” Givan said. “It is a tremendous step forward to unify us as one Alabama.”
House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels has co-sponsored Givan’s bill and the House Democratic Caucus announced over the weekend that it also supports it.
“It’s time for our state government to stop fighting harder to preserve its racist history than it does to protect its citizens’ basic rights,” Daniels said. “The Legislature must preserve quality healthcare, equal job opportunity and fair housing for all Alabamians, with equal vigor and interest. Citizens have taken to the streets en masse to demand a state culture that is anti-racist and culturally sensitive; their voices need to be respected and heard.”
How successful Givan’s bill will be in the Republican-dominated Legislature remains to be seen.
State lawmakers were attempting to strengthen the Memorial Preservation Act earlier this year — by making it more costly to move or alter monuments — but the national outrage in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests have forced those same lawmakers to soften their positions.
Several Confederate monuments have been moved or destroyed around the state in recent months, and state officials have been wary to challenge local government bodies that made the changes.