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Lawsuit to protect Lauderdale Courthouse Confederate statue gains support

A Confederate statue in Florence, Alabama, has been the source of months of protest and contestation of whether it should be removed. (VIA THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS)

The lawsuit by three local residents to prevent the city of Florence and Lauderdale County from removing the Confederate Statue known as “Eternal Vigil” has new support.

The Lauderdale County Republican Executive Committee announced Saturday that the Alabama Division of United Daughters of the Confederacy’s official position is now that Eternal Vigil must remain on Lauderdale County Courthouse property.

In June, State Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, solicited a letter from Alabama Division UDC President Suzanna Rawlins. In her letter, Alabama UDC accepted city and county plans to remove the Confederate statue to Soldiers Rest Cemetery in Florence.

Josh Dodd is the chairman of the Lauderdale County Republican Executive Committee, which has voted to defend the Confederate monument.

Dodd says that a newly issued letter dated Aug. 24 on behalf of UDC is a strong “retraction and repudiation” of its June 17, 2020, letter solicited by Melson. Dodd said that to his knowledge, the letter has not yet been made public but he assumes that Melson is aware of it.

“This is a great step forward for plaintiffs’ lawsuit and the vast majority of city and county residents who want to see their history preserved for future generations,” said Dodd.

The Lauderdale County Republican Executive Committee released a resolution opposing any removal or relocation of the statue earlier this summer.

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“The Lauderdale County Monument to the men of the County who served in the Confederate Army in the War between the States 1861-1865 fought against oppressive taxation and for states’ rights in an army that included African-Americans in support and combat roles, was dedicated in 1903 and has stood in front of the county courthouse for 117 years,” the committee wrote.

The Confederate soldier statue was commissioned by the local UDC after the Civil War and dedicated in 1903. It has been the subject of recent public debate and strong opinions from both supporters and opponents.

A number of groups are now campaigning against Confederate Monuments, saying they are symbols of white oppression of Black people.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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