HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — On Wednesday, the Madison County Commission voted unanimously for the state's permission to remove the Confederate monument outside of the Madison County Courthouse.
Demonstrators stood at the steps of the courthouse in hopes to have the monument removed shortly before the county commission meeting began.
"I think it's about really destroying the racist legacy that we have here all across America. The point is not to erase history, the point is just to move it out of view," says Deidre Darby.
Lawmakers passed the 'Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017'. That means a Confederate monument, that is more than 40 years old, cannot be removed or relocated without permission.
Some residents believe it should stay.
"These people had a significant role in our history, the development of our history. The western expansion of our history," says Diana Hansen.
Chairman Dale Strong says this debate to remove the monument has been on the table for a long time.
"With the differing of opinions, this commission kept the dialogue going and kept communicating and brought in a differing of opinions from different parts of this county," says Strong.
Commissioner (Dist. 6) JesHenry Malone introduced the resolution and says the goal is to have the monument removed lawfully.
"The next steps are once the body meets in Montgomery and renders us a decision, we go from there. But, regardless of what their decision is, the decision of the commission was made perfectly clear today," says Malone.
Commissioners say there isn't a timeline just yet for the application process.
At the June 10 Madison County Commission meeting, District 6 Commissioner JesHenry Malone introduced a resolution to remove the Confederate monument in front of the Madison County Courthouse.
The motion passed, with commissioners saying it's important that any change made happens legally. (Scroll down to see the complete text of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.)
No details were provided about how or when this might happen.
Members of the public attended the meeting to make their voices heard on the removal of the monument.
Alabama state law states that:
Read the text of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 below:
No architecturally significant building, memorial building, memorial street, or monument which is located on public property and has been so situated for 40 or more years may be relocated, removed, altered, renamed, or otherwise disturbed.
No architecturally significant building, memorial building, memorial street, or monument which is located on public property and has been so situated for at least 20 years, and less than 40 years, may be relocated, removed, altered, renamed, or otherwise disturbed except as provided in Section 41-9-235.
No memorial school which is located on public property and has been so situated for 20 or more years may be renamed except as provided in Section 41-9-235.
There is a process by which an entity may apply for a waiver, which would allow a monument to be removed (Alabama State Code Title 41 Article 9A Section 41-9-235). However, this is only allowed for monuments between 20 and less than 40 years old. The Huntsville monument was placed in 1905.
Removal of the monument without a waiver can result in a $25,000 fine, as happened in Birmingham with the removal of the Confederate monument in Linn Park.
Groups in Madison County have been fundraising to cover this fine, should it be necessary. According to the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance, two GoFundMe accounts have together raised nearly $28,000.