MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said the statue of Raphael Semmes that once stood downtown has been turned over to the History Museum of Mobile.
The statue of the Confederate admiral was removed from its pedestal on Government Street in the early morning hours of June 5. The city did not announce that it would be removed before crews went to work.
Stimpson said the museum "will develop a plan to protect, preserve and display it within the museum."
In a series of tweets, the mayor wrote, "This step was taken following extensive research by a team of lawyers, historians and city officials. This included conversations with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office as well as members of the Mobile City Council and others with a vested interest in the statue. We believe this action to be consistent with the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. If the Attorney General determines otherwise, we will respect his decision and stand ready to work with his office."
After a Confederate monument was removed in Birmingham, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit stating the city violated the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 and was subject to a $25,000 fine. The AG's office sent a letter to Mobile leaders seeking more information after the Semmes statue was removed. No lawsuit has been filed against Mobile by the state.
Stimpson's tweets continued, "I have no doubt that moving the statue from public display was the right thing to do for our community going forward. The values represented by this monument a century ago are not the values of Mobile in 2020. Since moving the statue on June 5 we have received extensive feedback from citizens and from people far beyond our city and state. I am confident that the museum staff will not only preserve the statue but place it into the appropriate historic context. We are grateful for their partnership. As a community, we should strive to understand the characters, culture and circumstances that have shaped Mobile and brought us to this crucial moment. And while we learn from our past, we should not allow the decisions of yesterday to cloud a bright tomorrow for our children. Over 300 years, there are chapters of darkness and light that weave together to form the Mobile story. Our most important chapter is the one we write next."