Jacksonville pols, civic leaders urge Confederate monument removal

confederate hemming

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville this weekend, which included one person killed by a domestic terrorist, protesters in Jacksonville renewed calls to remove Confederate monuments in the city.

Such calls have increased in intensity in recent weeks, with interesting contretemps at Jacksonville City Council meetings between Confederate enthusiasts and progressives who believe those symbols, rather than being celebrations of heritage, are venerations of institutional racism that has yet to abate.

Passions are swirling.

In that context, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry offered a strong statement Monday morning after a job creation event, leaving no room for confusion as to where he stands. And, soon thereafter, Council President Anna Brosche offered a way forward to perhaps remove the controversial Confederate markers.

“Let’s first start with what happened this weekend,” Curry said, regarding the loss of life in Charlottesville at the hands of a white supremacist.

“Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II. One of my grandfathers told stories of literal face to face combat with Nazis. I heard these stories as a child,” Curry said.

“One grandfather told me specifically what he was up against,” Curry added. “He had friends who didn’t come home. I saw the effects it had on him; I condemn it.”

“I condemn and reject the KKK, white supremacy, all of these groups — Nazis, neo-Nazis. It’s not what America is about. Frankly that’s not what humanity should be about,” Curry said.

“I do believe in our creed that we’re all created equally. So it’s sickening,” Curry said.

“Should we have any kind of public assembly here on this issue,” Curry added, “I’m going to work with JSO and make sure it’s safe and we don’t experience injury or loss of life.”

Curry then left an opening for a resolution to this issue from the legislative branch.

“That said,” Curry added, “City Council is the legislative body. We have a new Council President. I’ve yet to have a member of City Council come to me and say this is their priority; however, if a Council President or members of Council deem this to be a priority, on monuments, then I urge them to have a debate in a public forum.”

“If legislation develops,” Curry added, “I’ll see what it is at that time.”

Legislation may move sooner than later, with a strong statement from Council President Brosche.

“Following the leads of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and most recently the Florida Senate who removed Confederate items from public places in Tallahassee, and in response to the horrific and unacceptable incidents that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, I am asking that the City of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department and the Planning Department (Community Planning Division, Historic Preservation Section) conduct an inventory of all Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers on public property,” Brosche wrote Monday.

“In order to develop an appropriate plan of action to relocate Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers, it is important to know the full landscape of such a task. Upon completion of the inventory, I intend to propose legislation to move Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers from public property to museums and educational institutions where they can be respectfully preserved and historically contextualized. It is important to never forget the history of our great city; and, these monuments, memorials, and markers represent a time in our history that caused pain to so many,” Brosche added.

Brosche’s position was endorsed strongly Monday afternoon by Ed Burr, head of the Jacksonville Civic Council.

“The Jacksonville Civic Council opposes racism and discrimination in every form and seeks to advance a culture of fairness and respect for all. We commend Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council President Brosche for taking the lead to thoughtfully consider removal of Confederate monuments from local public property, particularly in light of the tragic events of last weekend. The Civic Council will evaluate and weigh in on any legislation introduced
on the matter. Our vision of Jacksonville holds no room for hate.”

In what seems like a retrospective contrast, City Council members were reluctant to offer opinions Monday morning at City Hall.

“No comment,” said Councilman Sam Newby. Councilmen Doyle Carter and Scott Wilson also gave essential no comment statements.

Others were more voluble, if no less conflicted.

“I’m willing to listen to both sides,” Council VP Aaron Bowman said. “What happened last weekend in Charlottesville was despicable.”

Regarding Jacksonville’s Confederate momuments, Bowman suggested “some could be taken down, while others stay up.”

Jacksonville’s most high-profile Confederate monument in Hemming Park, Bowman said, could fall in either category.

“I’m willing to listen,” Bowman said, “and do what’s right for the community.”

Councilman Greg Anderson described himself as “very disappointed” with what went down in Charlottesville, a situation that exemplifies the perils “when groups decide to stop talking.”

On Jacksonville’s historical monuments, meanwhile, Anderson has yet to take a position.

Councilman Jim Love noted that he’s getting a lot more “anti-monument emails” in recent days, but he hasn’t “made up his mind” on the matter.

Love described the “death in Charlottesville” as “terrible,” and noted the “vitriol” in recent public comment periods as concerning.

“I understand both sides,” Love said. “It’s a tough call. You want to make the people happy.”

The Hemming statue, said Love, “has been out there 100 years. If we take another two or three years to figure it out, it won’t hurt.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Bryan Pennington

    August 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    The first memorial to be removed if you are doing this on principal would the name ‘Jackson’ ville. And of course The Jaguars and every other revenue contributing entity of the city must have a say. Also, to be fair, in removing monuments to slavery then Martin Luther BLVD must also be renamed. If all evidence of slavery is eradicated, then evidence of The Civil Rights movement must also no longer exist.

    • Miko

      August 14, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      Sound petty and bigoted to me Bryan. Pencils and erasers do write history. Actions and resolutions usually come from pen and ink.

      • Bryan

        August 14, 2017 at 8:46 pm

        Jackson was a large slave owner and slaughtered or pushed west Cherokee and Seminole among other Indians tribes.
        With Jackson you get a twofer.
        Also without one how can you honesty tell the story of the other without being bias?
        What surprises me with the comments is why you label me a bigot when I played your alt left game. You want to take down memorials to the confederacy and I merely suggested
        that you are not complete without adding the cities namesake or are you just that damn ignorant as to who Andrew Jackdon is? That would not surprise me at all.
        Labeling me a bigot is outrageous. I merely offered thought provoking comments for consideration.

    • Ray Roberts

      August 14, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Thank you Bryan for making an important contribution to this discussion, because removing honorariums to a white supremacy and hate really has nothing to do with a man that preached love and non violence. Your position makes as much sense as renaming Washington DC.

      The Confederacy was about treason and slavery and it’s perpetuation and many of the names and statues around this city are honors to known white supremacists and KKK leaders or members. It’s very important to remember that this country was built on slavery and also the genocide of the Native Americans. But the place for that memory is in locations designed for history and able to convey its correct context. The absolute wrong location is as honorariums to those people like statues and the names of bridges, streets and schools. Those honorariums should be for people that have contributed positively to our society. People like Martin Luther King Jr that preached love, non violence and the recognition of people for their character.

      I am looking forward to a better treatment and education on this county’s history where people like Bryan can learn the truth.

      • Bryan

        August 14, 2017 at 8:57 pm

        Hey Ray, read my comment back to Miko. If you are a tax payer in Duval county I seriously suggest you take advantage of the library system. Start with A n d r e w J a c k s o n.
        or T h e H e r m I t a g e. That’s in Nashville, TN Ray. You can find that on a map of the US, just ask for help when you find the library. Good Luck!

        • Ray Roberts

          August 15, 2017 at 2:20 am

          Bryan, now you’re changing the argument. You stated that MLK shouldn’t be recognized. That’s a complete obfuscation of the issues. So don’t try and weasel out of your statement by throwing shade about Jackson.

          Come on Bryan, own your statement about MLK.

          Your attempt to bring Jackson into the discussion now is a poor attempt at cover.

          And yes, Jackson was a terrible person. Well known fact. We don’t need your little history lesson.

    • J

      August 14, 2017 at 10:33 pm

      If you can’t get along you can get your ass out this country Bryan.

    • RANDY

      August 15, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      Take the monument and deface it with new art that fits todays, gift of living in peace – with children of all that be playing in harmony. that way the monument can be saved with good intent.

  • Bunker-Darien, GA

    August 15, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    PLEASE. People!! This is not hard. Yes we can remove them but just move them without public comment. These monuments that get slated for removal are still historical peices of art. Inost southern states there are a few civil war battle ground sites most are sprwaling beautiful landscapes , and any one of these historical sites would be improved with the creation of a monument garden. TAKE THE MONUMENTS TO THE BATTLEFIELDs!!!!!!! Be done with this and move on.

    • Ray Roberts

      August 15, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      Excellent idea

  • Frankie M.

    August 15, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Lenny needs to check with his boss in DC before going any further. Lenny’s on a tight leash.

  • Roy Fouts

    August 16, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    A little different take on the issue. The statues are “art”. Destruction is not appropriate. Placing art in public places that offends groups of people is not appropriate.

    When and if removed, they should be preserved and placed in an appropriate venue that clarifies and preserves the context of the statue.

    This probably irritates everyone…but I feel it is an appropriate path that if people consider it, can become a consensus solution. Thanks for the education JCCI.

Comments are closed.


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