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Business leaders call for delayed vote, new strategy to take down Confederate symbols, names

Confederate Monument Springfield 1
Raymon Troncoso
/
WJCT News
The monument to the Women of the Southland in Springfield Park has been covered in tarp since it was defaced with graffiti. The bronze statue and its base are worth $808,000.

The Jacksonville Civic Council, a local coalition of prominent CEOs, is calling on Mayor Lenny Curry's office and the Jacksonville City Council to delay Tuesday's vote on the seemingly doomed proposal to remove the Confederate monument in Springfield Park.

In a letter to Mayor Curry and Council President Sam Newby on Monday, the Civic Council expressed they were disappointed the measure was voted down in multiple committees last week.

The legislation would appropriate $1.3 million to relocate the large Monument to the Women of the Southland, worth $808,000 in materials alone, to a storage facility until the city could sell it or transfer it to a private venue.

Because the ordinance would make a change to the city's budget, it would require the support of 13 out of 18 city council members. Thus far, just four council members have voted in favor of the bill in committee, while 10 voted to keep the statue where it is in Springfield Park, formerly known as Confederate Park.

A failed vote means an ordinance to remove the statue could not be reintroduced for another calendar year, which is why the Civic Council says withdrawing the bill or postponing the vote is the "best course of action at this time." A delay would give the ordinance another two weeks to gin up support and prevent the effort from being stymied a full year.

Instead of voting on removing the single monument, the Civic Council says local leaders should craft a comprehensive plan to remove or replace all Confederate-related symbols on public property, including statues, streets and building names; and that the plan should be finalized by March 2022.

Activist groups like Take 'Em Down Jax and the Northside Coalition have been demonstrating and commenting at public meetings in favor of removing the statue — to no avail. After last week's committee votes, they they said they were switching tactics and would call on private interests to pressure City Council.

Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or Rtroncoso@wjct.org and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.