Teenagers charged with defacing Alabama’s Confederate monument

The Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Three 17-year-olds from Montgomery are accused of using black paint to deface the Confederate Monument on the Capitol grounds in Montgomery.

State Public Safety Director Chris Murphy announced Friday that each of the three had been charged with first-degree criminal mischief, a felony.

Police did not release the names of the three because of their juvenile status.

Police who patrol the Capitol complex discovered Nov. 11 that the hands and faces of statues on the Confederate Monument had been painted with black paint. Black graffiti saying "N.T. 11 11 31" was scrawled on the monument’s base.

Officials suspected the letters and numbers were a reference to slave Nat Turner, who was hanged on Nov. 11, 1831 for starting a rebellion.

Charles Thomas, director of historic preservation at MasonryArts in Bessemer, worked to remove the black paint from the monument, which honors Confederate veterans.

Public Safety spokeswoman Martha Earnhardt said the case was being turned over to Montgomery County District Attorney Ellen Brooks to handle. Brooks said Friday she had not yet received the case and could not make any comment.

First-degree criminal mischief carries a sentence of one to 10 years in prison for adults, but the penalty for juveniles can be less.

Earnhardt attributed the charges to good police work, but she and others at department have declined to say whether the vandalism was captured by security cameras around the Capitol complex.

In response to the charges, Gov. Bob Riley said, "This was a senseless crime, and I applaud our investigators for their outstanding work."

Work began on the 82-foot-tall monument in 1886 when Confederate President Jefferson Davis laid the cornerstone. It took 12 years and $46,000 to build it next to the north side of the Capitol. At Riley’s direction, the state spent $231,600 in federal funds to restore the monument in 2004.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press

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