Duval County

Jacksonville mayor: All confederate monuments citywide will be removed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — During a peaceful protest in Jacksonville at the steps of City Hall, Mayor Lenny Curry announced that all Confederate monuments citywide will be removed.

Action News Jax reported Tuesday morning when work crews removed one of them in Hemming Park.

Curry’s announcement was made in the wake of Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests locally and around the world. Tuesday’s protest, was organized by Leonard Fournette of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Fournette was joined by the city’s mayor, Lil Duval and Sheriff Mike Williams. Protesters peacefully walked from City Hall to the Duval County Courthouse.

“We hear you... I understand your anger and frustration... We are bringing forth legislation that will unite all government agencies with the public to hear your voice,” the City of Jacksonville said in a tweet.

The battle over Confederate monuments throughout the city has been reignited several times in recent years.

Many have called for the removal of the monuments that honor fallen confederate soldiers -- while others said it is a part of history and their heritage.

One of the hundreds of protesters was a woman named Shirley James. She marched in the 1960′s in Tampa, Florida.

“Back in the 60’s I protested, and things haven’t changed since then, but I’m happy to see it’s multi-racial now,” James said as she walked through downtown Jacksonville.

People have been protesting in Jacksonville for two weeks. Action News Jax asked James her thoughts on confederate monuments being removed.

“That’s a good thing, but it shouldn’t have taken this many years to get rid of them. It should have happened a long time ago,” James said.

Some like Jenna Burnstein, do not agree with the mayor’s decision.

“I want it exactly the way it was. People have the right to look at it and walk away,” Burnstein said.

Seber Newsome III says, “This monument was put up here to the soldiers of Florida who did not make it home from the war.”

“All of this is going to constitute a fresh chapter in this long narrative,” says Dr. Alan Bliss, CEO of the Jacksonville Historical Society.

It’s a move that many have been waiting decades for.

Dr. Bliss says what happens to these monuments doesn’t change the past.“The past is immutable as far as changing history’s concern, it doesn’t do that either. What it does is add another chapter to the history.”

See bliss explains -- despite Jacksonville being occupied by the Union Army for most of the Civil War, it inherited a complicated history being in a southern state.

We asked the city what will be taken down. It’s a long list (see list below) that includes a Grand Stand at the Old City Cemetery and dozens of other Confederate markers throughout Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Community Action Committee, the organization spearheading the historic protests, believes it’s a good thing -- but it should have happened years ago.

Co-founder Joshua Parks says “I think it’s good that the confederate statues are finally coming down. It’s a symbolic victory against racism. But it’s also politically expedient for Mayor Curry to do it at this moment, instead of a few years ago when many Jacksonville residents were demanding they be removed. He had a great opportunity to take a stand and to be on the right side of history, unfortunately, he missed it. The great momentum of the movement for police accountability and community control of the police has forced the hand of many politicians and the confederate monuments are the low hanging fruit on the road to real change in America.”


Aurielle Eady

Aurielle Eady, Action News Jax

Aurielle Eady is a digital content producer for Action News Jax.