ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama city has removed a 115-year-old Confederate monument following a vote by city leaders that was prompted by the national reckoning over racial injustice and the legacy of the Civil War.
Workers with the city of Anniston began removing the stone obelisk from the grassy median of a busy avenue late Sunday, city spokesman Jackson Hodges said Monday, and the work only took about 20 minutes.
The City Council voted 4-1 earlier this month to take down the monument to Confederate artillery officer John Pelham, who was from nearby Alexandria and died in battle in 1863.
The memorial, which was erected in 1905 while Southern heritage groups were promoting a version of Civil War history that cast the Southern cause as noble, will be taken to a Confederate history park. An inscription on the base referred to Pelham as “gallant” and beloved.
City spokesman Jackson Hodges said the obelisk was taken down late at night to prevent traffic problems on the main road through the city.
“It wasn’t to pull a fast one on the community,” he said.
Located about 65 miles (104 kilometers) east of Birmingham, the city of roughly 22,000 people is about 52% Black.
The removal came during a national reckoning of Confederate symbols that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Mayor Jack Draper said he put the removal on the council’s agenda in June after hearing from multiple residents on both sides.
“And I think, given where we are right now, with a heightened focus on racial and social injustice, now is the time to actually debate this issue,” Draper told WBRC-TV in June.
The Birmingham suburb of Pelham is named for Pelham, who also was the namesake of an artillery range at the Army’s Fort McClellan in Anniston.