BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — June 1 marks one year since the city of Birmingham removed a confederate monument at Linn Park. The removal spanned overnight and happened just a day after peaceful protests turned into riots in downtown Birmingham.
It took riots for city officials to step up and decide to remove the monument.
The night of May 31 was the last night the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument stood in Linn Park in downtown Birmingham. That night, rioters tore apart the black barriers that had surrounded the monument since 2017. The statue was vandalized, which chunks of cement chiseled away.
Mayor Randall Woodfin addressed the crowd of people, promising to remove the monument within 24 hours.
“Race relations in the city of Birmingham have been a continuum for quite some time,” said Woodfin. “I think my job as mayor in my convening power is to continue to bring people together…”
Woodfin held true to his word. The statue’s removal began the following night on June 1.
“George Floyd’s death was extremely unfortunate but it provided on the Americans and our community an opportunity for people with various views and different walks of life to come together,” said Woodfin.
Former Mayor William Bell said the statue should have come down sooner and not as a reaction to riots.
“The current administration called me and asked me what should be done,” said Bell. “I said it should be torn down immediately. That was maybe 9-10 months before it was actually torn down.”
Bell said the city still has work to do on a systemic level, but seeing the monument gone is an important step.
“I’m glad it’s down, it removes a blight on our city,” said Bell. “It speaks volumes on how far we’ve come from the struggles of segregation in our city and we want to make sure that never happens again.”
Woodfin said in order to see change, we have to keep the conversation surrounding racial systemic injustice going on every level.
“I think as the city of Birmingham reflects on its existence of 150 years, what better time than now to continue to have these intentional conversations around race, around equity around inclusion, and just doing the right thing,” said Woodfin.
Woodfin would not disclose where the statue is being stored, citing safety concerns.