Proposal to give decision on historic monuments to voters gets 1st reading in City Council

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A proposal that would let Jacksonville voters have the final say on whether to take down historical monuments, including one in particular that’s tied to the Confederacy, was introduced to the City Council during its Tuesday evening meeting.

Confederate monuments have been a topic of debate in the city for years. Councilman Al Ferraro is sponsoring the bill.

Historical monuments the bill would apply to include 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. If approved, the new bill would ask voters to decide what to do and find its way onto the November ballot.

Public comment time was shortened during Tuesday’s council meeting because so many people wanted to talk about issues mostly surrounding Confederate monuments.

“I don’t want no money being paid out to these groups to tell us we don’t need the monuments,” said Fred Singletary. “Save history, keep the monuments, man up and do what we’ve gotta do. Let the people vote on it.”

“People need to vote on everything despite what it is,” said Caroline Ferrera.

“It’s time for the city to keep its word and take down these reprehensible statues,” said Terry Neal.

“Now is the time to do what is right and take them all down,” Hope McMath told the council.

The Northside Coalition and other activist groups have advocated to remove the Confederate monuments in Jacksonville.

“I think the Ferraro proposal is both cowardly and dangerous,” said Ben Frazier, the group’s president. “This government has dilly-dallied and kicked the can down the road for the past two years.”

Others have advocated for the new bill to let the people vote on whether to take them down or leave them.

“Let the people make the decision,” said Sabre Newsome. “This has been going on for way too long. The city council has more issues they could focus on.”

Last month, Councilman Matt Carlucci, introduced a bill that asks the mayor, council, and city administrators to put together a plan and timeline for removing the monuments. On Tuesday night, Carlucci announced he was deferring the bill for right now.

About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.