Confederate monument debate continues in the South

Monuments debate

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- As night fell in Birmingham Tuesday, city workers raised a blackened plywood wall around the Confederate memorial that has stood there for more than a century.

By Wednesday morning, Roy Brook, carrying an American flag, marched alone in protest.

"I just hate seeing history destroyed," Brook said.

Roy Brook protests the covering of a Confederate monument in Birmingham, Alabama. CBS News

The violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, re-ignited the debate, and Birmingham Mayor William Bell says these monuments don't belong in what he calls the cradle of the civil rights movement.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell
Birmingham Mayor William Bell CBS News

"I want it gone," Bell said. "Think about what it represents. The Confederacy was an act of sedition. It was an act of treason."

The Southern Poverty Law Center found some 1,500 Confederate memorials across the country, including 718 statues and monuments and 10 U.S. military bases named after Confederate officers.

But the list has gotten a little smaller: Baltimore's mayor ordered that city's four Confederate monuments removed.

And protesters in Durham, North Carolina, took matters into their own hands -- and feet -- to remove a statue at the county courthouse.

A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in the U.S. Capitol. CBS News

And even on Capitol Hill -- where ten statues including those of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and Gen. Robert E. Lee stand in Statuary Hall -- critics want them gone, too.

"It sends the message we have not learned from our past. We have not learned that all God's children are created equal," Bell said.

The Alabama attorney general is suing the city of Birmingham and the mayor, saying the wall obstructs the view to the monument which violates a state law signed this year.