Confederate Monument Linn Park Alabama

Birmingham city workers use plywood panels to cover the Confederate Monument in Linn Park, in Birmingham.

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A judge has overturned an Alabama law that prevents the removal of Confederate monuments from public property.

A ruling issued late Monday by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo says a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments violates the free speech rights of local communities.

Graffeo says the law can't be enforced, but the state could still appeal. The attorney general's comment had no immediate response to an email seeking comment.

The state sued the city Birmingham two years ago after officials tried to remove a 52-foot-tall (15.85-meter)-tall obelisk that was erected to honor Confederate veterans in a downtown park in 1905.

Birmingham's population is mostly black, and the judge says it's indisputable that most citizens there are "repulsed" by the memorial.

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