In Hemming Park on Wednesday, some people were playing chess while others in suits walked to and from City Hall. Meanwhile, 62 feet above them, a bronze Confederate soldier stood atop a fountain. The monument is one of the few pieces of Jacksonville that survived the Great Fire of 1901.
Barlow Curran was boarding the Skyway that overlooks the statue.
“That Confederate statue is a offense to some, but it’s a pride to me,” he said. “People need to understand although it is a statue of a Confederate soldier, that statue is a part of Jacksonville history.”
Curran’s views were echoed by commenters at Tuesday’s Council meeting. Some Northeast Florida residents expressed concern that the Confederate statue might be removed from Hemming Park.
One man said concept drawings for the park online don’t include the statue. The concepts were drawn by the planning nonprofit Project for Public Spaces earlier this year.
But the nonprofit Friends of Hemming Park said in an email to WJCT the mock-ups are just suggestions, not official, and the organization isn’t planning to remove the statue. Plus, removing the statue would take a Council vote and funding, Councilman Bill Gulliford said.
“I’ve heard the ramblings and the rumblings about this issue, and I think it’s a tempest in the teapot as far as that ever being part of some kind of movement to do that,” Gulliford said Tuesday night.
Following the murder of nine black churchgoers in South Carolina last year, Confederate monuments across the South have been taken down — including the Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina Capitol.