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Confederate monuments still roil people in Jacksonville

Most of the residents who wanted to keep the monuments were they are, on public property, wore red during Tuesday's meeting.
Claire Heddles
Most of the residents who wanted to keep the monuments where they are, on public property, wore red during Tuesday's City Council meeting.

City Hall’s council chambers were packed for Tuesday's meeting, with about 60 residents weighing in on whether to remove the remaining Confederate monuments from public property in Jacksonville. 

The current proposal, by Councilman Matt Carlucci, allocates up to a half-million in city funds for monument removal. His bill likely won’t face a full council vote until late April, after multiple public hearings and committee votes.

The public comments Tuesday were almost evenly split between proponents and opponents of removal.

Congressional candidate LaShonda Holloway joined the chorus of those in favor of removing the Women of the Confederacy monument in Springfield Park.

"Not only do the monuments memorialize losers and failed insurrectionists, those statutes stand for white supremacy and do not unite the city of Jacksonville," Holloway said. "For these reasons and many other reasons, I would implore this council to aid in the progress of this city and take down the monuments."

Many of those opposed to removing the monuments called the plan part of "woke cancel culture."

"The second paragraph in this bill declares that historic monuments have become quote, divisive, the only division is coming from communist agitators," Westside Republican Club Vice President Raymond Johnson said.

Carlucci, a Republican as well, said he filed the resolution to make the city more welcoming to all its residents.

"I think we all should evaluate being willing to give them up off of public property because it will make so many of our friends of color feel the city's more welcoming and the city considers the feelings of hurt that they have whenever they see these monuments," Carlucci told WJCT News last week.

City council members previously voted 12-6 to withdraw a plan to remove of the Women of the Confederacy monument last fall.

A few days later, council committed to make a plan for all Confederate markers and monuments by the end of this fiscal year.

The commitment from council's strategic plan, which council members approved in November, was to "facilitate a community conversation to develop a roadmap and funding plan to be completed by July 2022 for removal, relocation, remaining, or renaming of all confederate monuments on city property."

Carlucci said he filed the resolution to meet the council's stated July goal.

"July 26 is kind of the deadline for getting things in the city budget," Carlucci said. "Trying to make sure that we get this part of our strategic plan done in a timely fashion."

Mayor Lenny Curry announced in June 2020 that all monuments would be removed from the city, yet many remain almost two years later.

Under Carlucci's plan, the mayor and administration would be responsible for "alternative funding options" if the cost of removal exceeds $500,000.

Monuments in cemeteries and burial grounds would not be subject to the ordinance.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.