Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

DEBATE ON MONUMENTS BEGINS; Council Members Hear Impassioned Comments on How to Deal with Confederate Memorials

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

DEBATE ON MONUMENTS BEGINS; Council Members Hear Impassioned Comments on How to Deal with Confederate Memorials

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher Hong

A cultural clash unfolded Tuesday at City Hall when more than 100 people voiced their opinions about a proposal to remove Confederate monuments from public property.

The speakers showed up in reaction to Council President Anna Lopez Brosche's announcement last week that she would introduce a plan to move all of the city's Confederate monuments, markers and memorials into museums or other settings.

Brosche hasn't introduced a plan yet, and the issue wasn't up for discussion among the council on Tuesday. Still, the hours of public comment served as an official kick-off to the public debate over what Jacksonville should do with its statues and monuments honoring the Confederacy.

Most of the arguments have been made countless times in the generational debate over the appropriateness of memorializing, without context, the Confederacy's fight to preserve slavery.

Some said relocating the monuments were part of a leftist move to destroy southern heritage and erase history. Others said the monuments were demeaning symbols that celebrated white supremacy.

"I've heard a lot of people say this and that about what statues represent. They were traitors. They committed treason against the USA. They should be taken down, melted and cut up," said S.C. Howard in support of moving the statues.

"I want to remind us that history disappears if we don't have reminders. I don't agree with everything on the statue, but we should remember our history. I absolutely disavow any idea of racism," said Joseph Roberts.

Some speakers yelled. The crowd at times erupted into boos and applause - a violation of the council's rules - but were otherwise orderly, and more than a dozen police stood watch over the meeting to ensure that.

Some speakers said any decision short of removing the statues would be an endorsement of slavery and racism.

"Are we the Bold New City of South, or are we the White Supremacy City of the South? …

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