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St. Augustine city commission votes 3-2 to remove Confederate monument

Commissioners Roxanne Horvath and John Valdez cast the two votes against moving the memorial.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — St. Augustine's city commission decided in a 3-2 vote Monday to move a Confederate memorial out of the Plaza de la Constitución.

Commissioners Roxanne Horvath and John Valdez cast the two votes against moving the memorial.

Where the monument will go is still to be decided. It could be relocated to a private cemetery or other private property.

A fence went up around it and the base was boarded up quickly after the commission's vote. Their meeting began at 10 a.m. but lasted all day and the vote didn't happen until about 8:45 p.m.

The city manager, who brought a written proposal to the commission to debate relocating the monument, says there are a few options for what comes next. He says one option is to take the monument apart brick by brick and structurally preserve it. He says they have some of the best people in the industry to do that.

Hundreds of people let their voices be heard by the commission. Three hours into the meeting, the commission started reading 350 emails on the topic.

Many people pointed to the history of the city as a reason to keep the monument standing in the heart of the city. Others say America's oldest city should be an example because the monument glorifies white supremacy and hurts the city’s black community. 

"I don't want to drive by something every morning dedicated to people who wanted me to be a slave, who wanted me to be owned," said Vice Mayor Leanna Freeman before the vote.

Residents were able to call in to speak at the meeting when the topic came up on the agenda by calling 904-293-4330 or sending an email with comments before the meeting to cityclerk@citystaug.com.

Other monuments related to the Confederacy that were not on the agenda to be discussed are the old marketplace where slaves were once bought and sold and the gravesite of Confederate General William Wing Loring on the University of Florida property. 

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