On the order of Gov. Robert Bentley, the Confederate battle flag which stands at the foot of the confederate memorial on the state Capitol grounds was taken down this morning.
Two workers came out of the Capitol building about 8:20 a.m. and with no fanfare quickly and quietly took the flag down. They declined to answer questions.
Moments later Gov. Bentley emerged from the Capitol on his way to an appearance in Hackleburg. Asked if he had ordered the flag taken down, the governor said, “Yes I did.”
Asked his reasons for taking it down and if it included what happened in Charleston last week, the governor said, “Yes, partially this is about that. This is the right thing to do. We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters that we need to deal with. This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward. I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down.”
Bentley said before he made the final decision he checked to see if there were any impediments in the law or state policy that would prevent him from taking down the flag and found none, so he acted.
After the battle flag – which is at the center of the controversy – was gone, workers began removing three other Civil War era flags.
They are the First National Confederate Flag, commonly preferred to as the “Stars and Bars;” the second flag is the Second National Confederate Flag, more commonly known as the “Stainless Banner;” and the last flag standing is the Third National Confederate Flag.
About 90 minutes after the battle flag was removed, about a half dozen workers removed those remaining flags. The workers did not answer questions.
The view of the flags on the huge monument has been obstructed by the heavy trees at the site which is just at the bottom of the steps leading to the main doors of the Capitol’s north entrance and is surrounded by a wrought iron fence. It is a very short walk from the governor’s office.
The cornerstone of the Confederate monument was laid by Jefferson Davis, president of the CSA (Confederate States of America) on April 29, 1880.
After the flags were removed, a protester carrying a Confederate flag showed up at the monument.
“If you don’t change people’s hearts, changing a flag won’t do anything toward racism,” said Mike Williams of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.