Alabama town removes statue of Confederate soldier in the middle of the night

Another Confederate monument has been uprooted in the South, amid the US’s heightened focus on racial and social injustice. In the city of Anniston, Alabama, a 115-year-old monument of Confederate artillery officer John Pelham, who died in the Civil War, was quietly removed just after midnight on Monday. The memorial, which was erected in 1905, referred to Pelham as “gallant” in an inscription on its base.

The statue will be relocated to the Confederate history park Janney Furnace in Ohatchee, Alabama. City spokesman Jackson Hodges told the Associated Press the monument was taken down late at night to avoid traffic problems. He clarified, “It wasn’t to pull a fast one on the community.”

Last month, city leaders voted 4-1 for the Pelham monument’s removal, concluding that it was “inextricably intertwined with the South’s historical support for slavery and racial segregation.” The council’s decision reportedly drew little public opposition in Anniston, a city of about 52 per cent Black residents.

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In 2017, the Alabama Legislature passed a law prohibiting cities from removing monuments that are more than 40 years old.

In its vote to remove the Pelham monument, Anniston’s city council agreed to pay the £25,000 fine for violating that law.

Since June — when George Floyd’s death spurred nationwide protests against policy brutality — dozens of Confederate monuments in the South have been vandalised or removed, as Americans debate whether such statues honour Southern heritage or symbolise slavery and racism.