City’s remaining Confederate monuments take spotlight in public comment during Council meeting

Activists continue push for removal of Jacksonville’s remaining Confederate monuments, supporters hope they’ll stay put

Activists continue push for removal of Jacksonville's remaining Confederate monuments, supporters hope they'll stay put

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For weeks, the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville has been pressing the city to follow through with the removal of all remaining Confederate monuments, and on Tuesday afternoon, the organization held another rally outside City Hall.

The organization gathered at the steps, chanting and holding signs.

It’s not the first time the Coalition has demonstrated outside City Hall. A month ago, about two dozen people gathered at the same spot, asking in particular for the city to take down the Monument to the Women of the Confederacy, which remains in Springfield Park -- although it’s covered.

Ben Frazier, the organization’s president, says it’s a symbol of racism and white supremacy.

“We think it’s time for Jacksonville to march to the beat of a different drummer,” Frazier said. “We think it’s absolutely imperative that in order for Jacksonville to move forward it must do so by taking this Confederate monument down.”

News4Jax has learned removing the statue from Springfield Park could cost at least $1.29 million, and that doesn’t include other expenses that could be related to storing or preserving the statue. The cost was revealed in an email from Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes.

Seber Newsome, who lives in Yulee, often attends Jacksonville City Council meetings, speaking in favor of keeping the monuments in place. He and several other counter-protesters were at the event.

“It’s going to be broken up, cut up in pieces and it will never see the light of day again,” Newsome said. “They’re not going to spend another 1.3 million to put it up again.”

The City Council discussed legislation to remove the monument in Springfield Park during its meeting Tuesday night.

During public comment, numerous people -- both for and against removing Confederate monuments, shared their opinions with the Council members.

“These are pieces of history that is [sic] being erased. Instead of looking at them negatively, people should look at them and think how far we’ve come,” said Betty Hodges, Jacksonville resident. “The thing that offends me greatly is the estimated $1.3 million to remove the monuments that have been here for centuries. The money could be used for a better good.”

“Use that money not to tear down our heritage, but to build up the city,” another speaker said. “Use that same money to improve sewer and drainage, and our garbage picked up.”

“The time for change is now,” said Debbie Tribble with the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville. “This monument does not show value on how we are good to each other. It does not show that we are making a turn in the right direction. It was built on selfish actions of manipulation and control.”

“If the city is going to move forward, City Council must make the right decision,” said Joseph George, with the Northside Coalition. “We will continue to march and protest in a peaceful manner until these monuments are taken down. We’re not going anywhere.”

In June 2020, Mayor Lenny Curry ordered the removal of a Confederate statue in what was then Hemming Park, now James Weldon Johnson Park. He also announced that all Confederate monuments in the city would be removed.

In September, the Northside Coalition called on Curry to follow through with that promise.

About the Author:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.