JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During its Tuesday evening meeting, the Jacksonville City Council discussed an ordinance that would appropriate $1.3 million to fund the removal of a Confederate statue in Springfield Park.
In recent weeks, the statue has been a hot button topic that has received much feedback from the public -- both for and against the removal of the monument. It came up numerous times in public comment, and people also spoke on the topic when it came up for discussion on the City Council’s agenda.
“What harm has the monument in Springfield Park off Hubbard Street done?” said resident Kathleen Pereira. “Is it harmful? Why has it been able to quietly witness so much during so many years and all of a sudden now be considered harmful?”
Essey Howard, with the Jacksonville Northside Coalition -- an organization that supports the removal of all Confederate monuments -- spoke about removing the statue.
“I don’t see no statues of slaves. I don’t see none. Where’s our history at? They want to keep their history, plus their history is on the losing side. They should have never been allowed to erect a statue or a monument. But they did,” Howard said.
“Y’all get rid of this stuff,” he continued.
Mike Ludwick is also a member of the Northside Coalition.
“Removing the monument does not erase history. The history of slavery and white supremacy will remain with us forever,” Ludwick said. There were many culpable people involved. But there is no need to glorify it with a temple erected to glorify the cult of true southern womanhood that supported that traitorous and slaveholding Confederacy.”
Seber Newsome, a Yulee resident, has long spoken in favor of keeping the statue in place. He joined Tuesday night’s discussion during public comment.
“I want to ask all of you. You know what the women’s monument looks like. Do you really think it is about white supremacy, or what it was put up for -- to honor the women who take care of their families while their men were gone just as the Navy wives do today?” Newsome said.
A recent email from the city to City Council revealed that the potential $1.29 million price tag to remove the Women of the Southern Confederacy monument from the park does not include additional expenses that would be related to storing or preserving the statue.
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. He also announced all Confederate monuments in the city removed, and in September, the Northside Coalition called on Curry to follow through with that promise.
Councilman Matt Carlucci, who recently announced that he’s running for mayor, publicly released a statement in support of removing the statue.
A news release from the Jacksonville Northside Coalition reveals emails from two other members of the City Council -- Reggie Gaffney and Ju’Coby Pittman -- both of whom have previously endorsed the removal of the statue.