Demopolis Council: Confederate soldier will not return to monument

The Confederate Monument downtown Demopolis shown the morning of July 16, 2016. (WAW | Michael Clements)

The Confederate soldier that once topped a monument in downtown Demopolis will not be returned to its former pedestal following a decision made in Thursday’s city council meeting.

The council voted 3-2 to replace the soldier with a 7-foot tall obelisk and expand the monument to honor fallen soldiers from all wars, rather than only the Civil War as it originally stood.

Councilmen Charles Jones Jr., Nathan Hardy, and Harris Nelson voted in favor of the replacement, with Councilmen Bill Meador and Cleveland Cole voting against the proposal. Mayor John Laney abstained.

“With this decision, the soldier will be repaired and preserved as best as possible and placed in the Marengo County Historical and Archives Museum, along with a plaque explaining how the soldier ended up there rather than atop the pedestal downtown,” Laney said.

As reported here, the monument was damaged in the early morning hours of July 16, 2016, when an on-duty police officer crashed into the base, causing the soldier atop the monument to break off just above the ankles.

Since then, the statue has been the subject of many council meetings, drawing public comments from people as far away as Selma.

The council addressed the monument and heard from community members in its Jan. 19 meeting and

The Confederate Monument downtown Demopolis shown the morning of July 16, 2016. (WAW | Michael Clements)

voted to send the issue to a committee for review and recommendation as originally reported here. That committee, headed by Councilman Jones, presented its recommendation to the council in the form of a letter prior to Thursday’s vote.

“I believe each council member voted his conscience tonight, and I look forward to us moving forward as a united city as we always have,” Laney said.

A schedule for the work has not yet been established, but Laney said he hopes to have all of the work done as soon as possible.

The West Alabama Watchman is working to obtain a copy of the recommendation letter presented to the council and will update this story accordingly.