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Jacksonville group dedicated to removal of Confederate monuments feels ignored by City Council President

The group "Take 'Em Down Jax" says that City Council President Terrance Freeman has cancelled multiple scheduled meetings with the group.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Are they honoring the past or preserving a racist history?

Right now there are two bills in the Florida Legislature that would keep confederate monuments in place throughout the state. Senate Bill 1096 can be read here.

A group in Jacksonville has been working for years to remove confederate monuments and hopes these bills won't affect their efforts. They say that City Council President Terrance Freeman refuses to even meet with them and has been cancelling scheduled meetings.

Back and forth they march, a small group, but one with a loud message.

"We continue to demand the removal of confederate statues that represent and celebrate white supremacy," said Wells Todd of the group Take 'Em Down Jax during a protest outside city hall.

Todd and Take 'Em Down Jax want confederate monuments like A Tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederacy taken down. But they say they receive roadblocks in the form of cancelled meetings from city leaders. A meeting with council president Terrance Freeman in February was cancelled at the last minute.

But Freeman was at City Hall that day. In fact, an hour after the meeting with Take 'Em Down Jax would have taken place, he was sitting in the front row at the city's press conference to announce the new UF grad school in Jacksonville.

"We had been trying to get a meeting with councilman Freeman for quite some time," said Todd.

The group was supposed to have another meeting on March 23, which was two days after Jacksonville's city elections, but once again that meeting was cancelled.

The group decided to record their phone call with Freeman's secretary to ask for clarification on the latest cancelled meeting.

"Can you tell me why he cancelled the meeting yesterday?" asked Todd.

"Because of a conflict," responded Freeman's secretary. "He was double booked yesterday."

So back they march as they have for years, meeting or no meeting.

"The lack of concern for the needs of people," said Todd referring to his efforts to speak with Freeman, "these statues affect our kids, and they have for a long time."

Terrance Freeman was re-elected earlier this week after receiving 65% of the vote for City Council At-Large Group 1.

Calls from First Coast News to his office on Friday were not immediately returned.

Below is an email exchange between Wells Todd and City Council President Terrance Freeman from February 12th and 13th that was submitted to First Coast News by Todd.

From: Wells Todd <wellstodd625@gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2023 12:35 PM
To: Freeman, Terrance <TFreeman@coj.net>
Subject: Re: Take 'Em Down Jax still requesting a meeting

On Mon, Feb 13, 2023 at 12:30 PM Wells Todd <wellstodd625@gmail.com> wrote:

President Freeman: I am unclear as to what your response below means.

When can you meet with representatives from Take ‘Em Down Jax?

Your secretary said you had an opening this week.

Can we meet?

Wells Todd

Take ‘Em Down Jax

On Mon, Feb 13, 2023 at 12:25 PM Freeman, Terrance <TFreeman@coj.net> wrote:

Good afternoon,

Thank you for your response. God bless-

On behalf of

From: Wells Todd <wellstodd625@gmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2023 11:22 AM
To: Freeman, Terrance <TFreeman@coj.net>

President Freeman:

We have attempted for quite some time to establish a time and date for a meeting with you to discuss the removal of Confederate statues in Jacksonville. We are interested in knowing your plan to remove them and knowing why you have voted against removing them. We had a meeting established for last Tuesday, 2/7/23 at 10am, through your office staff.

You did not keep that meeting. The excuse given by your staff person was that you had an emergency on your other job. When we asked if we could meet later on that day, we were told that she did not have your schedule. At 11am on the same day, you appeared in person at an event in the atrium of City Hall. 

It is very disrespectful to be lied to. My time is as valuable as yours. The fight to remove Confederate monuments will not go away. We will not accept 'contextualization,' which would amount to even more lies about why these statues were erected in the first place.

Each time we have contacted your office, we have been given a variety of excuses by your staff person:

"He's at his other job."

"He has an emergency."

"He's not in the office."

"He's waiting for a lawsuit to be settled and then he'll meet with you."

The last communication with your secretary was on 2/8/23. She said that we may be able to meet with you on February 17, and that she would consult with you and call back. To date, we have not heard from anyone in your office regarding a date to meet.

We expect a response to this email with a date and time for a meeting with you.

Wells Todd

Take 'Em Down Jax

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