Mayor Randall Woodfin promised to have the Confederate statue at Linn Park, Birmingham, removed after pleading with protestors to disperse.
Black Lives Matter protestors in Birmingham, Alabama, gathered at the town's Linn Park on June 1 in order to demonstrate against the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis. The park features a 115-year-old Confederate monument known as the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument. As part of their protest, those who gathered attempted to pull the statue down. However, it was no easy task. When Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin arrived at the scene, he vowed to have the 52-foot-tall obelisk removed himself, CNN reports. 24 hours after he made the promise, a crane was spotted at the site, tearing the monument down.
The protest initially began as a peaceful rally in downtown Birmingham before moving to Linn Park after comedian Jermaine "FunnyMaine" Johnson suggested that demonstrators meet him there. When they reached the park, they toppled the statue of Confederate sailor Charles Linn, installed in 2013 prior to moving on to the larger statue. Mayor Woodfin made his way to the park just in time. He first pleaded with protestors to disperse before police officials arrived to make arrests. Despite his please, protestors continued to chant, "No justice, no peace." He thus vowed to remove the statue himself. In Facebook Live footage captured by CNN, he is heard stating, "Allow me to finish the job for you."
Never let it be said that Mayor Randall Woodfin isn't a man of his word.— Stag 🌹🦺 Moecco (@creezee) June 2, 2020
The confederate monument is coming down. If I lived in Birmingham, I'd vote for this man in a heartbeat. @randallwoodfin https://t.co/88ezXkClw1 Shoutout to @IanHoppe for commentary and recording! pic.twitter.com/CmJtjlqGBL
Protestors initially demanded that the statue be removed that same night. However, they eventually moved back to their original site of downtown Birmingham. Shortly after they dispersed, riots erupted in the downtown area. Reports of fires and property damage to businesses were filed. The chaos prompted the Mayor to declare a state of emergency on Monday. He also established a curfew, which will continue until further notice. At a news conference, he affirmed, "Birmingham, this is not us. This is not who we are. This is not how we taught the world how to protest."
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin says he’ll have the statue down by at least Tuesday at noon pic.twitter.com/pC5dUGwYcP— Anna Beahm (@_AnnaBeahm) June 1, 2020
He continued, "Violence, looting, and chaos [are] not the road to reform and anybody that's doing the looting, anybody that's breaking things just because, anybody that's setting fires just because, I want to make this very clear to you. You're not doing that in the name of reform or George Floyd. You're on a different agenda that the City of Birmingham will not tolerate." It was during this press conference that he formally announced his plans to have the statue removed. "In order to prevent more civil unrest in our city," he said, "I think it is very imperative that we remove this statue that's in Linn Park."
JUST IN: Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin: You have the right to be angry. You have the right to be sad. You don't have the right to smash windows and set fires.— WBRC FOX6 News (@WBRCnews) June 1, 2020
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According to Woodfin, any charges brought upon the city by the state attorney general's office in response to the action would be "worth it." "If there's a judgment rendered from the judge, then we should be held accountable," the Mayor stated. "And I believe I am willing to accept that because that is a lower cost than civil unrest in our city." Ultimately, the city of Birmingham was slapped with a $25,000 fine after Alabama's Supreme Court ruled that the city's actions violated state law.