ANNISTON, Ala. (WIAT) — At the end of the Anniston City Council meeting Tuesday, Mayor Jack Draper was chased out of the building by residents who came to speak, but were not given the opportunity due to public comments being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council discussed moving a Confederate monument and renaming a street one block over to honor Anniston’s first black police officers. This gesture was not welcomed by some residents who came to the meeting.
“It is not enough. We don’t give a darn about those statutes. Make some laws that help us out as black people in this city,” resident Lesa Lace said.
“That’s a joke. What peace does that give us moving that statue? What peace does that give us putting a name on a sign? We still have to go unjustifiably getting pulled over, possibly getting shot. Who cares about a sign,” resident Sean McClean said.
The statue in question is the statue of Confederate Maj. John Pelham statue, located on Quintard Avenue. The council is proposing to move the statue roughly 20 miles away to Janney Furnace Park. Now, Draper said they will prepare to pay a fine for violating the state’s Memorial Preservation Act.
“We would have to locate those funds, quite frankly. That’s a part of the overall discussion we’ll have to have, which will continue on July 7,” Draper said.
Councilor Benjamin Little said this is not the change the city needs.
“So, it is insulting, diabolical, insensitive that I’m hearing you talk because of the social climate and name a street and pat black folks on the head,” Little said. “Go back and everything will be OK? Not acceptable.”
The council is expected to continue their discussion on removing the monument at their next meeting in four weeks. In the meantime, Draper will be reaching out to the Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s Office about the legal repercussions of moving the monument.
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