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Last updated 12:59AM ET
March 3, 2021
APR News Reports
APR News Reports
Repairs Continue At Confederate Monument
(2007-12-05)
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - The Alabama Confederate Monument in Montgomery was damaged recently by vandals armed with black spray paint. Repairs are moving slowlys. Alabama Public Radio's Brett Tannehill reports ...

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When historic resources are vandalized, it stirs strong emotions.

"BOWER-Outrage at the hate crime that was perpetrated ... it should never have happened in the first place. I mean this is the state Capitol and they don't even have anyone who knows when it happened. That's pretty sad."

Steven Woodfin Bower of Montgomery has been coming to the Alabama Confederate Monument at the old State Capitol since he was a child. He's here on this day taking pictures of the damage, thought to have occurred the weekend of November 10th.

"BOWER- ... it's also personal history. My family has been in Alabama since the 1840s, so it's personal."

Clean-up is moving surely, but very slowly ...

Charles Thomas and Christy Carl are applying a variety of chemicals to different "test patches" around the 85-foot tall monument, built from limestone and granite in 1886. Carl works for the Alabama Historical Commission. Thomas is a masonry expert from the Birmingham area. They are proceeding with caution.

"THOMAS- We've got about eight different materials and we've put them on in small test patches to try to determine what's the best and safest to use. They're almost ready to be rinsed off. When we rinse them off, we'll have a better understanding of what works and what doesn't work.

"CARL-Every stone will react a little differently to different paints. The theory in preservation is you start out with the most gentle material first because certainly you don't want to cause any damage. And then you move forward if that doesn't work, but you always start with the most gentle material first.

Some of the test patches have been sitting all-day long in the 50-plus degree weather ... that's the borderline effective temperature for many of the removal agents. Thomas picks up a green garden hose and begins to spray ...

THOMAS-I'm pre-wetting the stone to control any absorption so that whatever I rinse off up above doesn't run down and soak into the stone. It's kind of insurance to make sure that what comes off up there doesn't go back in down here."

After he finishes wetting around the test patches, he begins to focus directly on several of the chemical blotches. Unfortunately, the black paint doesn't appear to budge from the limestone face of the monument. However, the news is better for damaged areas on its granite statues. Again, Christy Carl ...

"CARL-There were a few drops of paint that dropped as they were spray painting. We were using those as test patches and two of them are gone ... so that's very encouraging, yes."


Thomas take a toothbrush to some of the more stubborn test areas ... it helps a little, but not enough. However, he is not discouraged.

"THOMAS-I think it's minimal right now. It's just the problem of getting it off without driving it deeper into the stone."

And accomplishing that will require a healthy dose of one important ingredient.

"THOMAS-Patience. And trying to get everyone to have enough patience and understand that you don't need to get in a big hurry. Because if you get in a big hurry you may make a mistake that you can't repair or reverse."

Vandalism of the Confederate Monument has brought more attention and foot traffic to this historic spot. Evidence is seen in the 30 minutes spent here gathering sound for this report. In that time, at least four other people showed up, including a television camera crew and Mr. Bower.

"BOWER-You know, even bad PR is better than none at all, so I've seen a lot more people up here. This isn't the first time I've been here. I was trying to get a picture to put on the web and let more folks know about it."

State Capitol Police are still investigating and have surveillance footage from several security cameras in the area. So far, it's being viewed as a case of vandalism, and not a hate crime. The Alabama Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has offered a thousand-dollar reward for information leading to an arrest. An informal prayer service is planned for the evening of December 20th in protest of the vandalism.

For APR News, I'm Brett Tannehill
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