Withdrawl of bill means Confederate monument could be removed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Should it stay or should it go?

The Confederate monument at Hemming Park has stirred debate, most recently in city hall.

On Tuesday night, the Jacksonville City Council decided not to protect that monument.

It's the first thing you'll likely see when entering Hemming Park. The towering statue dates back almost 120 years, and is meant to pay tribute to soldiers in Florida who fought for the Confederacy.

"It's a good monument, it reminds me of many years ago," said Keith Johnson.

It's a statue Johnson can't imagine the park without.

"It would look really strange if they move it," said Johnson.

A bill submitted by the city of Jacksonville's Historical Preservation Commission would have given Hemming Park an historical designation, meaning the statue would have been protected from removal, for instance, due to it being a reminder of slavery for some.

For Emily Lisska, Executive Director of the Jacksonville Historical Society, it's about preserving the past.

"We save history, we preserve history, we know that not all history is pretty, not all history is happy, and this history is a mixed one," said Lisska.

City council members discussed moving the monument somewhere else.

Lisska said the location of the monument was purposeful and is therefore important to it's history.

"At the time it was 1898, the nation was healing, and Jacksonville, Florida, was at the heart of this healing process and we don't want to forget that piece of the story, either," said Lisska.

City council members Lori Boyer and Reggie Brown both raised concerns with the bill that would have protected the statue. Neither responded to multiple attempts for comment Wednesday.

Keith Johnson believes history is just that.

"That's back then this is now, so that monument's been there, it needs to stay there," said Johnson.

While the historic designation bill was withdrawn, the city could review it again at a later date.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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