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Last updated 5:10AM ET
February 27, 2021
Alabama
Alabama
Trial Set for Confederate Monument Vandals
(2008-02-07)
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - An April trial date has been set for three teenagers charged in juvenile court with vandalizing a 109-year-old Confederate monument at the state Capitol, an attorney for one of the teens said Thursday.

Montgomery attorney Richard Keith said the teens had their initial appearance in juvenile court Thursday and are set to go to trial on April 10, but he hopes that won't be necessary.

"My intentions are to resolve this case without a trial," Keith said. "Basically, these are good kids who have never been in trouble. These are not terrorists, they're not extremists."

The suspects, all 17, were charged with first-degree criminal mischief. Their names have not been released because of their age.

The three are accused of jumping over a waist-high fence during the Nov. 11 weekend and painting the hands and faces of four granite soldiers black. The vandals also wrote "N.T. 11 11 31" in black paint on the monument's base, an apparent reference to the date rebellious slave Nat Turner was hanged in 1831.

Some had assumed the vandalism was the work of black activists looking to make a point against the Confederacy, but the three arrested in December are white. Their youth also surprised those who thought the vandals would be older and better educated, given the apparent Turner reference.

Keith said all three teens denied the charges at the Thursday hearing and "want to go on with their lives without any baggage hanging on."

"I can't speak for all three, but take it for what it is," he said of the vandalism. "There was some spray paint used on these statutes. I would consider it being basically a teenage prank."

The memorial, built on a cornerstone that was laid by Confederate president Jefferson Davis in 1886, features four granite soldiers representing the cavalry, infantry, artillery and navy.

An expert restorer has removed most of the black paint from the soldiers' faces and hands, but "N.T. 11 11 31" can still be faintly seen on the limestone base and the restoration has cost more than $3,500 so far.

A tip to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which offered a $1,000 reward for information on the incident, led to the teens' arrest. The Confederate group had initially called for the vandalism to be prosecuted as a hate crime, but backed off that request after white suspects were caught.

Keith said the teens were good kids from good families. Any punishment along the lines of community service with restitution and an apology would be appropriate in such a case, Keith said, adding that all three teens are very bright students.

"That's the irony with smart teenagers," he said. "They're intelligent but they're teenagers and can be immature."

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