Council votes to halt monument constructionPublished 10:55pm Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Two weeks ago, the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference out of Atlanta spoke at a press conference considering the rebuilding effort of the Nathan B. Forrest monument in Old Live Oak Cemetery.
In that press conference Charles Steele Jr. said he would bring 400,000 to march on Selma into the city hall chambers. Steele and SCLC didn’t deliver that exact number, but more than 40 protestors arrived in town to walk to city hall for a special work session at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and this led the council to make a motion regarding the monument.
The protesters had power in numbers through signatures, carrying with them all 325,000 signatures from a petition on Change.org against the construction of the monument.
The work session scheduled ten people to come and address the council and all who spoke used their time to persuade the council to not go forward with the monument, some of them even making legal and physical threats.
“If that statue goes up, you will have to put me in jail cause I will break it down,” Kalvin Monroe said of the monument. “We say we are going to go beyond, we are going back.”
The argument against the monument’s existence was the same as past meetings and protests — those who spoke mentioned this statue is a symbol of hatred and Selma is not the place for it.
However, three scheduled to speak at the work session requested to speak before the council during the regular council meeting later on.
Faya Rose Toure, Sherette Spicer and Malika Fortier all spoke at the council meeting after the council approved it. Each put pressure on the council, and Toure’s questioning of the rightful owner of the property where the monument is located, led the council to delay construction of the monument.
After a long discussion with city attorney Jimmy Nunn about possible repercussions of a council decision, Bennie Ruth Crenshaw made a motion to halt construction of the monument until a court could declare who owned the land in the cemetery and what was the intended usage of the land.
Council member Tommy Atchison seconded the motion; Susan Keith and Greg Bjelke abstained from the vote. Crenshaw, Bowie, Angela Benjamin and Atchison voted yes to postponing construction.