Confederate monument protesters disrupt Nights of Lights in St. Augustine

In St. Augustine, hundreds gathered to protest the Confederate statues that still stand in the city.

SAINT AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Hundreds of people disrupted the Nights of Lights celebration in St. Augustine Saturday night, protesting against Confederate monuments that still stand in parts of the city.

One of those monuments is owned by the University of Florida. The other, located in the Plaza de la Constitucion, wont be moving but will eventually have added historical context, city officials have said.

Protestors say their voices were not heard when the city decided unanimously to keep that monument in place, so they marched on a bigger stage: Night of Lights.

The protest that started at St. Paul AME Church and headed out to the quiet streets of Lincolnville, quickly came to confront the large crowd in town for the holiday event. Protestors chanted around the bandstand while the band was playing. They were met with boos and people upset about the disruption.

"This is terrible to be doing this to families, that bring their children here for all these years, to go through this," said Beverly White, visiting from Palm Coast.

"It's a little distasteful, but it is their right," said Sara from New Smyrna Beach.

There were shouting matches and counter-protestors, but protests were peaceful. A fact Curtisha Dunlap, visiting Night of Lights from Jacksonville, appreciated.

"This protest seems to be a beautiful thing because they did it in a way that got attention, but they're not being violent," Dunlap said.

"We did what we wanted to do. we wanted to bring attention," said Reverend Ron Rawls, who led the protest.

Rawls believes Saturday's protest gained the attention of city officials.

"I think that they'll listen a little closer to our story," Rawls said.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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