Jacksonville inches toward resolving confederate monument conundrum
Lenny Curry floats a monumental budget item. Image via Jacksonville Today.

Monument
'I don't want to jump ahead of anything right now.'

Something may be happening regarding Jacksonville’s most prominent Confederate monument, said City Council member Aaron Bowman on Monday. But what it is, he’s not exactly saying.

Bowman made the comments toward the end of the Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee, which he chairs.

Bowman said the Council may soon be able to “start looking at what does that path forward look like” regarding monuments to the Confederacy.

“I don’t want to jump ahead of anything right now, but just to my colleagues, that has not been forgotten and it is something that is very important to me, that as a community we decide what we’re going to do,” Bowman said. “More to follow on that one, and throwing a teaser out to you on that.”

We reached out to Bowman for more context on what the “path forward” is.

“That was part of our strategic plan to facilitate a community conversation. I have been waiting to get Redistricting behind us, so now it is appropriate to address that part of the plan. I am optimistic that in the near future the facilitate part can be established that supports that plan,” Bowman said. “This is not something that the Council will run.”

Facilitate in that context means “get it moving,” Bowman said. And if that happens, that would represent progress from ongoing stasis.

Back in November, when the Council did not approve legislation that would have spent $1.3 million to move the monument from Springfield Park, he said about the monument issue that the Council has to “take it on.”

Bowman’s comments came after his committee’s second reading of a bill that would allocate money from the city’s general fund to move the “Tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederacy” from that park in the heart of Duval County.

City Councilman Matt Carlucci introduced a resolution last month compelling a new plan for monument removal by July 26, capping the cost for monument removal at $500,000, with “alternative funding” sought to cover inevitable cost overage. He said that filing was a “next step in moving Jacksonville forward.”

Commenters, pro and con, had their say about the proposed spend.

Northside Coalition President Ben Frazier reiterated opposition to these monuments “standing on public property.”

“They’re monuments to hatred. Monuments to lynching. Monuments to white supremacy. Monuments to racism, discrimination, and racial disparities. They are monuments to people who have sought to perpetuate and promote us living in the past,” Frazier said.

Earl Testy, a former City Council candidate in 2019, took the opposing position. Testy, a Republican, said he opposed spending money to move the monuments in remarks that touched on a number of historical topics beyond the local monument.

Legislation filed last year to remove the structure failed. Mayor Lenny Curry sought $1.3 million to move the Tribute to the Women of the Confederacy from Springfield Park, but all three Council committees of reference rejected that appropriation, and the bill was ultimately withdrawn.

A sticking point was the price tag itself: the $1.3 million needed for a careful move, hoping to preserve the piece’s artistic value.

The structure is currently tarped, and Curry’s office said last year the tarp will remain on the artwork until a final decision is made to remove the structure from public view.

In 2020, one Confederate monument was removed at the behest of Mayor Curry, from what is now James Weldon Johnson Park, in the wake of unrest around the country spurred by the police killing of George Floyd. Progress has since stalled, with the final disposition of the statue in Springfield still undecided.

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


7 comments

  • Westside

    April 4, 2022 at 3:55 pm

    If the Republicans on the city council vote to move the Confederate Monuments, they will not win reelection and will not win any other political office that they run for, and that’s a fact Jack.

    • Simon

      April 6, 2022 at 12:17 pm

      Oh, where else in the country have politicians who have wanted and advocated the racist monuments be removed not won re-election? Even our military is questioning Confederacy idolatry, and they should. This blatant one-sided racism has to stop and they know it if Jacksonville is to grow at all.

      • Eastside

        April 6, 2022 at 2:36 pm

        Simon, how do you feel about the People of Jacksonville voting on this matter??????????

  • Historian

    April 6, 2022 at 10:41 am

    Legislation was filed. yesterday, to let the voters of Duval County decide if they want Historical Monuments on public property or not. That is what we have wanted all along. Let the people decide. No doubt, that Ben Frazier will not want this, even though Democrats outnumber Republicans in Duval County??? And, if the Republican city council members, vote to not allow the people to decide this issue, then, we will not vote for them ever again, not even for dog catcher.

  • Finally

    April 7, 2022 at 6:08 pm

    The Bill number is: 2022-265. It will allow all registered voters decide whether historical monuments should remain on public property or not. That is the way it should be.

  • It’s not 1865 - the Confederacy Lost!

    April 8, 2022 at 11:40 pm

    The way it should be is that monuments to insurrectionists and traitors to the United States do not belong in public parks, period.

    • Let the People Vote

      April 9, 2022 at 4:11 am

      Based on your philosophy, the founders fathers were insurrectionist and traitors.

Comments are closed.


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