‘It’s a start, but we still have a long way to go,’ people react to the city’s temporary removal of Admiral Semmes statue

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A surprise for many waking up to discover the removal of the confederate statue of Admiral Semmes in Downtown Mobile. Mayor Sandy Stimpson ordered it and crews worked overnight to do it. The city calling it “temporary.”

Whether it was the right decision or not, it’s a conversation that may never reach a common ground. Now the biggest questions are, what does this mean moving forward? Why this decision was made? And how to make sure this removal is permanent?

“See you get, you get it. We’re almost there,” said Gregory L.S. Harris.

For 120 years, the statue of Admiral Raphael Semmes has been hovering over Downtown Mobile. An honorable statue for some, “when you take down something that’s a heritage item and something that’s been identified with the city since 1900, that should upset some people,” said a man coming out to see what’s left.

And a brutal reminder of the past for others, “It’s a symbol to me, every time that I come down Government Street that there’s a regime that was in place from a whole nother era that didn’t like my people,” said Harris.

The removal of this monument was ordered by Mayor Sandy Stimpson on Thursday. His response on twitter said in part, “Moving this statue will not change the past. It is about removing a potential distraction so we may focus clearly on the future of our city.”

City council member John Williams doesn’t agree with how it was done, as he expressed how he felt about it on “Mobile Mornings on FMTALK1065.”

“We had plenty of time to make that decision, we could have come in today and done it. I think the mayor knows that he wouldn’t have gotten approval. At least I believe so, or he would have consulted us,” said Williams.

Williams goes on to say if the city is fined for the removal, it should come out of the mayor’s personal funds.

“I think it ought of mayor’s personal funds and maybe the boys who he is trying to satisfy can chip in out of their personal funds with him,” said Williams.

The City of Mobile Communications Director George Talbot said the removal and current location is temporary. A temporary fix that sends an uneasy message to many.

“Temporary is not going to be good enough. Because if you say it’s temporary, then you tell me that our commitment impressing upon this nation, that black people should have a better future is also temporary,” said Harris.

At this time it is unknown what is to come with this monument, but the city is expected to make an announcement at a later time.

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