Alabama lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a bill that would give cities and counties a possible avenue to take down Confederate monuments.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 6-4 to reject the legislation that would undercut the 2017 Memorial Preservation Act.
The legislation by Democratic Rep. Juandalynn Givan of Birmingham had called for allowing cities and counties to request permission from a state committee to move the monuments to another location for preservation.
The local governments would have to pay for the relocation.
Givan told reporters she was not surprised by the vote, and plans to reintroduce the legislation in the future. She said she believed opposition to the bill was rooted in racism.
“We are in the state of Alabama and there is still much to be done with regards to the issues of the Confederacy and the beliefs of those individuals who believe in the Confederate monuments, in the Confederate flag,” Givan said.
The 2017 law, which was approved as some cities began taking down Confederate monuments, forbids the removal or alteration of monuments more than 40 years old. Violations carry a $25,000 fine.
Some cities have opted to take down Confederate monuments and pay the $25,000 fine.
Rep. Mike Holmes of Wetumpka filed a bill in the current session that would increase the fine from a flat $25,000 to $10,000 a day.
Holmes voted against Givan’s bill, saying it would weaken protections for the monuments.
“It has nothing to do with race. It has to do with history,” Holmes said. He added that many in the state have ancestors who lost their lives in the Civil War.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has said that over 160 Confederate symbols were removed in 2020, including 12 in Alabama.
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