St. Augustine passes motion to move Confederate monument

Commissioners in St. Augustine on Monday night voted in favor of relocating a Confederate monument in the Plaza de la Constitucion in Downtown St. Augustine.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Commissioners in St. Augustine on Monday night voted in favor of relocating a Confederate monument in the Plaza de la Constitucion in Downtown St. Augustine.

The vote was 3-2 in favor of moving the memorial to the Trout Creek Fish Camp. City Manager John Regan had reviewed proposals to relocate the monument and recommended the site at the fish camp, which was offered by the property’s owner, Randy Ringhaver.

Angry, and sometimes threatening words were thrown during the commission meeting.

“Your neighbors are probably going to vote you out of office. Those are your constituents that have to put up with our annoyance when we come to your house. We will. We will,” one person said.

Other St. Augustine residents who spoke publicly commended the commission on its decision to move the monument.

“It’s an insult to the African Americans who have contributed to this community for centuries. I applaud your tenacity and I urge you to stay the course,” another person said.

Most public speakers, however, promised to fight the move to the end.

“One thing you will see is a holy uprising of patriots the likes of which has never been seen before, and that’s going to happen if you try, if you even put a hand to the veteran’s memorial to take it down,” a speaker said.

City staff reviewed several offers to host the monument built to remember Confederate soldiers killed in the Civil War but wanted to ensure it was either on public property or a site that would guarantee public access. A request to move the monument to the National Cemetery adjacent to the National Guard Headquarters was denied by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Several other sites would either be controlled by private landowners or be outside St. Johns County.

Ringhaver’s proposal for Trout Creek Fish Camp included a building, a park setting with lighting, sidewalks and seating so that the memorial could be visited for generations to come. Additionally, Ringhaver offered to create a foundation to manage the property and upkeep.

“The denial from the Veteran’s Administration to relocate the memorial to our local National Cemetery, nor any other national cemetery, made it clear that Mr. Ringhaver’s proposal provides the best solution,” Regan said. “His offer not only preserves the memorial but also provides the respect that the City Commission requires, and the community demands in determining an appropriate final location.”

The monument has drawn curiosity among visitors for generations, and the battle over its fate is not new. In 2018, a committee came up with a compromise and added plaques at the foot of the monument to put the memorial in the context of slavery.

Since the June decision to relocate the monument, there have been protests by both those opposed to its removal and those who want it to be moved and a lawsuit brought by descendants of Confederate soldiers listed inscribed on the monument, the Ladies Memorial Association (the organization that first put up the monument), Sons of Confederate Veterans and Save Southern Heritage Inc. Florida.

About the Author:

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.