(Updated) Cullman demolition company helps dismantle Confederate monument in Birmingham

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A Confederate monument was removed from Birmingham's Linn Park Monday evening. (Video capture/WVTM 13)

Updated 6-3-20 at 10:33 p.m. with a comment from Britt Demolition

CULLMAN, Ala. – As protests and riots sweep the nation in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the city of Birmingham saw residents take it upon themselves to try to take down the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park Sunday night. During the protests, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin approached the crowd and announced that he would finish the job they started if they would leave peacefully, and the crowd agreed to give the city until noon June 2. Despite a large number of protestors staying in the area to pull down the statue of Charles Linn, the Confederate veteran for whom the park is named, the City honored the promise and called in a demolition crew to remove the monument Monday evening.

While Woodfin did not identify the company hired to perform the demolition, an eagle-eyed Twitter user posted a photo of crews from Cullman-based company Britt Demolition at the site and tagged WBRC Fox 6 News in Birmingham. Crew members appeared to be preparing to cover the company logo on their vehicle. WBRC’s Cassie Fambro tweeted the image with the text, “These crews are covering up their logos near the Linn Park Confederate statue. They’re a demolition team from Cullman.” The tweet has since been deleted.

Britt Demolition initially declined to comment, but Wednesday night, Taylor Britt said, “Britt Demolition was tasked to dismantle the confederate monument located at Linn Park Birmingham in order for it to be preserved for future preservation. The monument’s structural integrity became compromised after protestors tried to topple it. No matter which viewpoint you have the statue was coming down after the events that unfolded.”

He added, “We were asked to cover our company logos, which we of course obliged.”

The monument has been the source of controversy in recent years. In 2017, the State of Alabama sued the City for previous mayor William Bell’s decision to conceal the base of the monument with plywood, citing a law that prohibits the removal or alteration of historical monuments that have stood for more than four decades. In January 2019, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo overturned the law and ruled that it violates the free speech rights of local communities. However, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed that decision in November 2019 and fined the City $25,000.

Attorney General Steve Marshall on Monday released the following statement:

“The Alabama Monuments Preservation Act provides a singular avenue for
enforcement — the filing of a civil complaint in pursuit of a fine, which the Alabama Supreme Court has determined to be a one-time assessment of $25,000. The Act authorizes no additional relief.

“Should the City of Birmingham proceed with the removal of the monument in
question, based upon multiple conversations I have had today, city leaders understand I will perform the duties assigned to me by the Act to pursue a new civil complaint against the City.

“In the aftermath of last night’s violent outbreak, I have offered the City of Birmingham the support and resources of my office to restore peace to the City.”

A GoFundMe was set up for the City to help pay for any fines that would be imposed due to the monument’s removal; as of 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, the fundraiser had achieved its goal of $50,000 and had nearly $10,000 in excess. The organizers, White Clergy for Black Lives Matter, stated on the page that the original goal will be donated to the City and everything beyond that will go to Faith in Action Alabama, a “multi-faith and multi-racial grass roots organization that works to end systemic racism in Alabama.”

Marshall announced Tuesday that his office has filed a new lawsuit against the City.

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Heather Mann

heather@cullmantribune.com