“It is important to never forget the history of our great city; and, these monuments, memorials, and markers represent a time in our history that caused pain to so many.”
That's just one part of a statement from Jacksonville’s City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche, as she announced she’s starting the process of removing Confederate memorials, monuments and markers from city property.
Brosche said the “horrific and unacceptable” weekend incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia, are part of the reason for her stance.
She further cites the Florida Senate removing Confederate items from public places in Tallahassee and action of former Governor Jeb Bush.
Brosche said she has ordered the Parks and Rec Department and Planning Department to inventory all of these items on public property. She then intends to propose legislation to move them where they can be “respectfully preserved and historically contextualized” in museums and educational institutions.
Council Member Bill Gulliford tells Action News Jax news partner News 104.5 WOKV he does not support making any changes.
“Do we make it so that we hide the things that maybe we’re not so proud of and sanitize it? I’m not a proponent of that,” Gulliford said.
Fellow Council Member Tommy Hazouri said a conversation is necessary, and he supports the approach taken by Brosche.
Councilman Garrett Dennis said he completely supports Brosche’s proposal, calling it strong leadership.
But Councilman John Crescimbeni seemed to take a more middle-of-the-road approach, saying he's open to discussion.
"I certainly don't have a problem having this conversation, but I do not want to restrict it to just Confederate markers, memorials, and monuments. I think if we're going to develop a policy about what we want on our landscape, in terms of recognizing, or remembering, or whatever, it should be a policy based on actions and deeds, not restricted to some specific time period," Crescimbeni said.
Crescimbeni said it's important, as a city, to set parameters on what we're going to memorialize and pay tribute to and what we’re not.
Meanwhile, Mayor Lenny Curry isn't giving a definitive stance either way. Instead, Curry said he will continue to focus on his priorities, which include public safety.
"Any issue that doesn't line up with the priorities that I've laid out and that I'm facing every day, it's city council's right, job, and their role to determine their priorities and for me to evaluate that legislation if they pass it at that time. And that's how I'll handle this, like other legislation," Curry said.
Curry goes on to stress his public safety focus, saying, "I'm getting up every day, facing the idea that kids are shooting kids, fighting violent crime, reinvesting in public safety that was neglected before I got here. And the removal of a single monument would not have stopped the shootings of kids at the Jacksonville Landing last year, the 2-year-old, Aiden (McClendon), that was shot in a drive-by, just over a year ago. So I remain focused and committed to the priorities that I've laid out."
If a bill looking to move Confederate monuments lands on his desk, Curry said he will evaluate it at that time.
A spokesperson for Duval County Public Schools declined to comment directly on this issue, instead saying that their focus right now is the first day of school. In late 2013, the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School was changed to Westside High School. Forrest was a Confederate general and believed to be the leader of the KKK.
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