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Council President vows to address Confederate monument issue after the start of the new year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The issue of Jacksonville’s last standing Confederate monuments will come to a head early next year.

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That’s according to City Council President Terrence Freeman (R-Group 1 At-Large), who said he’ll push for council to take up the issue after the holidays.

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This is the first time we’ve heard city council leadership make a solid commitment to put the issue to rest, but the next obvious question is: What solution will the council put forward?

In recent weeks a plane pulling a Confederate flag has made at least three appearances over the skies of Jacksonville.

Just last week, Northside Coalition Leader Ben Frazier was taken out of a city council meeting in handcuffs after he refused to yield the podium while demanding the removal of the city’s last two Confederate monuments.

Read: Confederate monument set to be removed from Virginia capital

But now, Council President Terrance Freeman has said the city can expect the issue to come to a head after the new year.

“We’ve heard from many, many voices. You know, there were opportunities and there were things that were brought up in the past, and for whatever reasons those opportunities may not have landed,” said Freeman.

Freeman brought up the topic unprovoked during an unrelated media appearance Thursday night.

He said he expects the council to put forth legislation soon.

“It’s gonna come down to contextualizing them. It’s going to come down to moving them off public land. But some of those examples that I mentioned were thoughts that were brought up before, but there was never a conversation of, if you move it off of public land, where does it go? Should it be stored anywhere? So, those tough questions are going to be addressed,” said Freeman.

Read: What’s next for Confederate monuments in the City of Jacksonville?

For Frazier, it marks a step in the right direction, from a council leader who as recently as this summer was a no vote on monument removal legislation.

“And it speaks to, I think, his political courage to even broach the subject,” said Frazier.

Councilmember Matt Carlucci (R-Group 4 At-Large) sponsored the removal bill this summer.

He said having the president’s backing breathes new life into the issue.

“‘Cause there’s a lot of people that think council is just putting it off and off and off and off. So, I think he’s trying to put an end to that narrative,” said Carlucci.

Read: Confederate flag flies again over downtown Jacksonville to protest removal of monuments

But Frazier worries the devil could be in the details of whatever the council puts forth.

He said his group will be satisfied with nothing less than total removal from public lands.

“If you actually told the story of the heinous and egregious crimes against Black people during slavery and the Civil War, that plaque itself would be larger than the monument itself,” said Frazier.

Freeman said while he disagrees with the messages flown over the city in recent weeks, those instances didn’t sway him one way or the other on this issue.

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Instead, he blamed the long-fought redistricting battle for putting the monument issue on hold this year.