Descendants of Confederate soldiers file lawsuit to stall relocation of monument in St. Augustine

Debate over confederate statues in St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — 38 descendants of Confederate soldiers filed a lawsuit Sunday to stall the relocation of the Confederate Memorial Obelisk in St. Augustine. The Veterans Council of St. Johns County and the Military Officers Association of America, Ancient City Chapter are also named as plaintiffs.

The lawsuit alleges Mayor Tracy Upchurch persuaded the St. Augustine City Commission to fast track a review by the Historical Architecture Review Board before voting to remove the monument.

“This monument was a communal effort, public art, and social history. Ex-soldiers and politicians had a difficult time raising funds to erect monuments so the task mostly fell to the women, the mothers, widows and orphans, the bereaved fiancees and sisters of the soldiers who had lost their lives,” said Attorney John Terhune.

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“The Monument is a 30-foot tall obelisk with the inscription ‘Our Dead. In Memoriam, our Loved Ones Who gave up Their Lives in the service of The Confederate States.’ The Monument is a form of expressive speech with a message related to the War Between the States and does not include Confederate markings, The expressive speech, and message projected by the Monument is generally understood to be from the mothers, sisters, and widows of the war dead,” Terhune said. “The petitioners are the lineal descendants of these mothers, sisters and widows and would suffer irreparable harm should the memorial to their relatives be damaged or destroyed.”

The lawsuit claims the St. Augustine City Commission “is mindful that this civil war monument is very different than the “Jim Crow’ memorials that contain Confederate symbols and try to vindicate the lost cause of the Civil War.”

The lawsuit aims to seek a temporary injunction that would prohibit moving the monument without a feasibility study.