St. Augustine City Commission selects 7-member panel to add context to Confederate memorial

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Protesters and counter-protesters packed the streets outside the St. Augustine City Commission meeting Monday afternoon as they named a seven-member panel to add context to a Confederate memorial.

The Rev. Ron Rawls, pastor at St. Paul AME Church, began pushing to take the monuments down back in August of last year.

Two months later, city commissioners decided to keep the monuments, but to add context that helps explain the full story. Rawls said that’s not enough for him and that he and other protesters will not be silent.

“We are not just going to be sent to the corner to go and sit down and be quiet,” Rawls said..

Down the road, counter-protesters protected the monuments.

“We are here today to protect the monuments from the mob down the street," said Dave Heimbol with the St. Augustine Tea Party. “They are irrelevant. The monument is not coming down.”

At the same time, inside City Hall, city commissioners were talking about a Confederate memorial committee, selected by the city’s manager.

“Four of them have outstanding academic credentials that are very specific to the time period,” said John Regan, the city’s manger.

Regan said the committee, made up of seven people in the community, is very diverse. There are three African-Americans and four Caucasians. However, many aren’t happy with the mix.

“They got a bunch of professors from liberal Flagler College, so it’s stacked,” Heimbol said.

“The commission didn’t put that group together to tell the truth at the end,” Rawls said.

Regan says the committee will meet Feb. 7.

A poll released by Save Southern Heritage says about 87 percent of St. Augustine voters want the monuments to stay.

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