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Sheriff: Former Ala. mayor involved in vandalism of Confederate monument using lift, electric saw

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 5:15 PM EDT
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TUSKEGEE, Ala. (WSFA/Gray News) - The Macon County Sheriff’s Office has strung police tape around a Confederate monument in Tuskegee after an apparent effort by some to either damage or remove it from the town square Wednesday afternoon.

Sheriff André Brunson told WSFA the incident involved former longtime Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford, who now holds a seat on the city council, as well as another person who was not identified by name.

“Johnny Ford was up on a lift, him and another guy,” the sheriff said, pointing at the statue now partially covered in a blue tarp, “and they were cutting the leg of the statue, trying to take the statue down.”

The sheriff said Ford was using some type of electric saw while standing in a lift with a bucket that had lifted him up next to the statue.

Charges will be filed against both Ford and the other person, the sheriff said, who added that while he believes the initial cut was made by the other person, he said Ford was on the lift.

The monument is located in the 100 block of Tuskegee’s Main Street and has long been a source of controversy in the predominantly African American city. It has been the target of vandalism on multiple occasions including in 2020, 2017, 2015.

Students from Tuskegee University tried and failed to remove the statue in the 1960s, but it has continued to stand since 1906 when it was placed in the square owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a park that was originally built for whites only.

Neither Ford nor the United Daughters of the Confederacy has responded to a request for comment.

Removal of the monument would be a violation of the controversial Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, passed by the state legislature in 2017.

A spokesperson for the Alabama attorney general’s office said it did not have any information on any incidents in Tuskegee, but did say a violation of the act is punishable by a one-time fine of $25,000.

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