JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – About two dozen people with the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville gathered Tuesday at City Hall to call for the removal of all Confederate monuments in the city.
The group is asking the city to take down the Monument to the Women of the Confederacy that still stands, although covered, in Springfield Park. In the Old City Cemetery, a Confederate gazebo still stands.
In June 2020, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry ordered that the Confederate statue in what was then known as Hemming Park, now James Weldon Johnson Park, be removed. At that time, Curry also announced that all Confederate monuments in the city would be removed. The Northside Coalition said it wants the mayor to follow through with that promise.
“All we want you to do as an elected is to do what you said you were going to do. We don’t need any more broken promises,” said one person, who wants the city to remove all Confederate monuments. “We are tired of that.”
“It’s not about the stone, the metal, the marble, the brass -- it’s about what they represent,” said Ben Frazier, president of the Northside Coalition.
Eventually, the group moved from the steps of City Hall to the atrium, trying to address the mayor in person. But Frazier said they were not allowed to and were told they needed to have an appointment.
There were also four counterprotesters at City Hall. They told News4Jax they don’t want to see the monument in Springfield Park removed and they want the mayor to put a plaque near it to give it more context.
“That’s Jacksonville’s history. I mean, it was a Civil War town, and so that is an important part of the history and heritage here,” said Payton Quina, who wants to keep the Confederate monuments.
HAPPENING NOW: Activists are protesting at #Jacksonville City Hall- calling for the removal of Confederate monuments in the city. There are also several counter-protestors here @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/0u2oEkP7qA— Renee Beninate (@reneebeninate) September 14, 2021
Earlier this month, the Northside Coalition and others rallied peacefully on the steps of City Hall. The group then went inside and marched to the mayor’s office. Before the group arrived, the doors were locked. A City Hall security guard confronted the group and said the demonstrators had to go. They refused to leave. Jacksonville sheriff’s officers were also nearby but never interrupted the protest. After more songs and chants, the demonstrators left, saying they will return with more protests, including at Jaguars games, and economic boycotts.
The Southern Poverty Law Center Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks issued a statement Monday, also calling for the removal of the monuments.
“The SPLC joins the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville and concerned community members in calling for Mayor Curry to follow through on his pledge to remove not only the shrine in Springfield Park, but all Confederate monuments littering the city of Jacksonville,” the statement reads, in part.