The will of the Jacksonville City Council on Confederate monuments is clearer Tuesday, after a third committee voted down $1.3 million in funding to move a monument from Springfield Park.
The Finance Committee downed the measure to move the Tribute to the Women of the Confederacy on Tuesday by a 4-3 vote. The vote agitated one member of the crowd, leading to a five-minute recess to quell protests.
The down vote came after The Transportation, Energy and Utilities committee and the Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety committee each voted against the measure.
Finance was expected to be the one committee of the three where the proposal had a chance, but four Republicans (Danny Becton, Michael Boylan, Terrance Freeman, and Ron Salem) voted against it, though none offered a reason.
Democrat Reggie Gaffney came out in support of the spend. He warned that if statues aren’t removed, the “whole darn America might show up to protest … we don’t need that here.”
Republican Matt Carlucci also was a yes on money to move the monument and to be on “the right side of history.”
“I hope that those on this committee will take a different lead than the previous two committees,” Carlucci said.
The bill would have to pass the full City Council with supermajority support, but at this point, it’s more likely there is a supermajority in opposition.
A monument had been moved from a different park in 2020 without Council sanction. However, this job would be more complex than the one last year, and would be completed with an eye and budget toward artistic preservation. Historians and art experts were consulted as part of the process, which included the exploration of the disposition of battlefield markers also. The markers will remain, however.
It is worth noting that the insured value of the edifice of $808,000 is less than the $1.3 million price tag for removing the statue itself.
For Mayor Lenny Curry, the proposal was an evolution of a policy decision he made last year, when he vowed the city’s Confederate statues would be removed from public property. Curry, the former chair of the Republican Party of Florida, made the vow at a Black Lives Matter march in 2020.
“The Mayor clearly defined that he was going to undertake a process to remove (monuments) from city property,” said Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes, making the case before a third inhospitable committee in 24 hours. “He believes city-owned property should be devoid of these kinds of objects.”
However, Tuesday’s Finance meeting continued the trend of Council members feeling increasingly emboldened to rebuke the Mayor’s office as his second term winds down and many members explore bids for higher office.
The statue is currently wrapped but is still standing in Springfield Park. Without Council decision on what to do next, it will stay there, as any move requires a budget allocation.