Councilman wants Jacksonville voters to decide fate of Confederate monument

If passed, referendum would be placed on November ballot

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s been a source of controversy for at least the past three years, and a member of the Jacksonville City Council wants to change the process for coming up with a solution.

Councilman Al Ferraro wants Duval County voters to decide the fate of historical monuments, including one that’s connected to the Confederacy.

The Tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederacy, which depicts a woman reading to two children, was funded and erected by the Florida Division of the United Confederate Veterans. It stands in what was once called Confederate Park until it was recently renamed Springfield Park.

A bill from the mayor to remove the statue was voted down last year in city council, in part due to cost.

A new bill would ask voters to decide what to do.

“People who live here in Jacksonville wanted to have a say on it. They asked me to put on a bill so they could vote on it,” Ferraro said.

The bill will be introduced Tuesday.

Ferraro points out that it doesn’t only apply to Confederate monuments, but also to historical items across the city.

He also wants residents to make the call. Not the mayor or the 19 council members.

“That’s the idea of this,” Ferraro said. “Putting it on the ballot for the community to be able to voice their opinion, sort of like the straw ballot was on do you want to sell JEA. There was a lot of people who spoke up about it, and this is kind of that similar thing.”

The bill, if passed, would put a referendum on the ballot in November.

Ben Frazier, of the Jacksonville Northside Coalition, issued a statement calling the proposal “a cowardly and very dangerous idea.” He writes:

“The public referendum proposal has the potential to make Jacksonville a national hotbed of racial controversy! Our elected representatives should stop beating around the bush! The city council representatives should have the courage and backbone to simply remove the Confederate monuments from public property. The people who erected these monuments wanted to keep their knees on the necks of African Americans.”

Another city councilman, Matt Carlucci, introduced a bill last month that asks the mayor, council, and city administrators to put together a plan and timeline for removing the monuments.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.