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Crews remove the Confederate monument outside Madison County courthouse

The Madison County Commission unanimously voted back in June to seek permission to remove the statue.

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — The early-morning removal of a Confederate statue outside the Madison County Courthouse was a celebrated goodbye for many people lining the streets of Huntsville in the early morning hours of October 23, 2020.

"We are champions, we succeeded," said bystander Remus Bowden. "I mentioned before that we were going to continue the pressure and we would eventually get this monument removed, and this is that time."

It was also a goodbye people say took too long. After 115 years standing in front of the Madison County Courthouse, crews finally took down the confederate statue.

"Citizens here are actually getting what they deserve," said Bowden. "A city that is actually diverse and inclusive"

But the frustration people feel from the protest over the summer where Huntsville Police fired bean bag rounds and sprayed tear gas is still weighing on some minds.

The protest happened at the start of June and police took action when the protesters did not leave when asked to. The response from Huntsville police received a lot of pushback, leading to multiple reviews and presentations by police and the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council to discuss how response could have been improved.

RELATED: Huntsville Police respond to community suggestions and recommendations

"They woke up a beast in a lot of different people and they wouldn't say sorry and they wouldn't take any credit for it, so now we are going to do what we do," said bystander Teddy Young.

Five months since that protest and since the city and county gave their support of moving the monument, the statue was pulled down by crews.

For many, this was seen as a night of progress, but others saw it as a night of disappointment.

"It is a sad day for Madison County. It breaks my heart to see it moved," shares resident Greg Miller. "There is no reason for it to be moved. We learn from history. We learn about our mistakes. When we start erasing our history, we lose so much."

Miller said he wished that the citizens could have voted on the removal of the statue. Other people said that history is not a big enough reason for it to stay.

RELATED: Courthouse Square confederate monument vandalized

"I mean I get it," said Bowden. "Everyone claims that this is their history, but this is a part of history we need to move on from."

The statue is now gone from the front of the courthouse, but the people who were on the streets say the fight for equality has just started.

"They think they are going to take it down in some kind of semblance of let's quiet them down, but that is not about to happen," share Teddy Young.

The statue has now been moved to it's new home at Maple Hill Cemetery, where many Confederate soldiers are buried.

City of Huntsville Statement:

The City of Huntsville has released a statement about the actions, saying they are, "...in the process of relocating the monument of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan from the Madison County Courthouse to a site near the Confederate burial section at Maple Hill Cemetery."

They also said that, "Madison County Commissioners have been working since June to find a lawful way to move the statue. Mayor Tommy Battle and the Huntsville City Council offered the City's assistance to secure a suitable location and presented a historic area in the cemetery as an alternative where many Civil War soldiers are buried."

As for why this was carried out at night, "We started mobilizing overnight to make as much progress as possible before businesses opened in the morning and traffic resumed," said City Administrator John Hamilton. "We hope to complete the move in one day, but our primary focus is on safely and securely moving the monument.”

The complete statement can be read further in the story.

RELATED: Alabama House Democrats announce support for repealing Memorial Preservation Act

WZDX Reporter Conner Board was live on the scene. Click here to watch the stream or watch below:

Here are more moments from the morning of the removal:

Credit: Jordan Dressman
Crane sitting next to Huntsville Confederate monument
Credit: Jordan Dressman
Crews start work to remove the Confederate monument in downtown Huntsville.
Credit: Jordan Dressman
Crews start work to remove the Confederate monument in downtown Huntsville.
Credit: Jordan Dressman
Crews start work to remove the Confederate monument in downtown Huntsville.

The Madison County Commission unanimously voted in June to seek permission to remove the statue, but due to the 2017 Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, the statue stayed in front of the courthouse for several months.

RELATED: Local historians write open letter to leaders calling for removal of Confederate monument

The 2017 Alabama Preservation Act requires a $25,000 fine to be paid for unapproved removal of any monuments older than 40-years-old.

City of Huntsville statement:

"The City of Huntsville, at the request of the Madison County Commission, is in the process of relocating the monument of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan from the Madison County Courthouse to a site near the Confederate burial section at Maple Hill Cemetery.

Madison County Commissioners have been working since June to find a lawful way to move the statue. Mayor Tommy Battle and the Huntsville City Council offered the City’s assistance to secure a suitable location and presented a historic area in the cemetery as an alternative where many Civil War soldiers are buried.

Commission Chair Dale Strong recently informed the City he believed the County had found a legal path forward to move the statue.

The City of Huntsville prepared a site for the monument and retained a contractor and crane operator to assist with the move.

“We started mobilizing overnight to make as much progress as possible before businesses opened in the morning and traffic resumed,” said City Administrator John Hamilton. “We hope to complete the move in one day, but our primary focus is on safely and securely moving the monument.”

WATCH: Groups still demand confederate monument removal