August 27, 2003 - Posted at: 9:30 a.m. CDT
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A moving crew removed the Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building on Wednesday to comply with a federal court order, as anguished protesters prayed at the building's steps.
Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, a group fighting the move, said state officials told him that the 5,300-pound monument was being moved to another location within the building and that moving equipment was already inside.
A federal judge ruled last year that the monument, which Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore installed two years ago, violates the constitution's ban on government promotion of religion and ordered its removal by Aug. 20. The U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) last week declined to hear Moore's appeal.
Moore had refused to comply. Eight associate justices voted Aug. 21 to remove the monument, and Moore was suspended the next day on charges of violating canons of judicial ethics.
Protest organizers asked the crowd outside the Judicial Building not to rush the building or do anything except pray.