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Mobile County commissioner objects to historical marker for lynching victim – Fox 10 News

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A disagreement among county commissioners over a lynching memorial that has Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson feeling “caught in the middle” has blown out into the open.
Two of the commissioners, Randall Dueitt and Connie Hudson, sent letters to Stimpson expressing reservations about a historical marker highlighting a lynching that occurred in 1909. Hudson approves the placard but wrote that she did not believe the proposed location, near the entrance of Government Plaza, was an appropriate spot.
Dueitt noted that the victim, a 43-year-old black man named Richard Robertson, was accused of killing one Mobile County sheriff’s deputy and wounding another.
“It’s unfortunate how Mr. Robertson got killed,” Dueitt told FOX10 News on Monday. “I don’t condone that in no way, form or fashion. But also, I don’t believe in memorializing a guy who was, basically, accused of murdering a police officer.”
The historical marker, one of six planned for Mobile County to commemorate lynchings, currently sits covered near Mardi Gras Park downtown. The mayor placed it there after a disagreement over where to put monument.
The Mobile County Remembrance Project spearheaded the effort, with a $3,000 financial contribution from the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative.
It has been the subject of controversy since the group conceived it last year. The organization had gotten a permit to put the marker at the spot where the Admiral Rafael Semmes statute once stood at the base of Government Street. Stimpson had the statue removed and in December put on display at the Mobile Museum of History.
But the major objected to putting the Robertson marker at that location, arguing that it was an inappropriate spot because the lynching did not occur there.
The marker currently sits at the corner of S. Emanuel and Church streets. It remains covered in case the Remembrance Project wanted to have an unveiling ceremony, according to a letter Stimpson sent to Ludgood on Monday.
“However, if it is the coalition’s wish that the City of Mobile uninstall the marker from this location, we will honor the request and place it back in crated storage until such a time when a permanent location can be mutually agreed upon,” the mayor wrote.
Ludgood last week had written the mayor to express disappointment that he unilaterally had erected the marker at its present location.
“Under Ell (Equal Justice Initiative) policy, no marker is ordered for a community until the language is finalized and it receives verification that the local group is authorized to place the marker in the designated location,” Ludgood wrote.
According to historical research commissioned by the Remembrance Project, Robertson was working as a carpenter on a house when two white plumbers accused him of an assault. Robertson fled when law enforcement officers showed up to arrest him, and a shootout left him and the two officers wounded.
A rumor that one of the law enforcement officers had died reportedly sparked an angry mob of 30 white men, who pulled Robertson from his jail cell on Jan. 23, 1909, dragged him through the streets in his underwear and then hanged him from a tree. The incident sparked outrage among some Mobile citizens, who called for an investigation into whether the sheriff was complicit.
On one of his letters to Ludgood, Stimpson wrote that lack of consensus among the commissioners has put him in a bind.
“Once again, this project has cast me into a difficult position,” he wrote. “This time I find myself caught between County Commissioners, whose relationships are imperative to the collaborative work that must occur between the City and County.”

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