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Renewed calls for removal of Confederate monument

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – An African American state representative has said she will push for the relocation of the monument dedicated to Confederate soldiers that sits on the grounds of the Florida Capitol.

The obelisk-style monument was dedicated in 1882 and moved onto the grounds of what is now the Old State Capitol in 1923.

The words etched into the stone dedicate the monument to preserving the memory of men of who fought for Florida in the Civil War.

"Floridians served all across the theaters of war," said David McCallister with the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

McCallister has ties to soldiers on both sides of the war.

"These monuments represent the men who served their state and defended their families," McCallister said.

But for social justice advocate Lakey Love, who often holds protests on the steps of the Old Capitol, the monument has a different meaning.

"Inequity and violence against black and brown people in this country," Love said.

Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Florida, said she plans to work with the governor's office and possibly file legislation to relocate the statue. She said she'd support moving it inside of the Old Capitol, which is now a museum, or to a Confederate cemetery.

Thompson said a plaque explaining the context of Florida's involvement in the Civil War would take the monument's place.

Florida has shied away from Confederate symbols at the Capitol in recent years. The Confederate flag was removed from the Senate seal, and the Confederate flag that once flew in front of the Capitol was taken down nearly two decades ago.

But McCallister condemned the call for relocating the monument.

"It's hateful. It's representative of a far radical left wing agenda," McCallister said.

Before the monument could be moved, it still needs to be made clear who actually owns it. 

When called to move the statue after Charlottesville attack, then-Governor Rick Scott said it was the Legislature that would need to act, but that was disputed by then-Senate President Joe Negron.

A bill filed to protect Confederate monuments didn't get a hearing the past legislative session, but in 2018, lawmakers approved construction of a memorial to enslaved Floridians on the Capitol grounds.