Billboard pushes for removal of Confederate monument in Putnam County

Photo provided by Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has raised a billboard in Putnam County that pushes for the removal of a Confederate monument that stands at the entrance of the county’s Courthouse.

SPLC said the billboard is in support of the Putnam Alliance For Equity and Justice (PAEJ), which has been advocating for the removal of the monument since 2020.

“For nearly a century, the inscription on the Confederate statue that sits in front of the Putnam County Courthouse reminds passersby that ‘The Principles For Which They Fought Will Live Eternally.’ These words speak volumes about the mindset of its erectors, who supported men that fought and died to preserve the system of chattel slavery,” Lecia Brooks, SPLC’s chief of staff and culture, said in a prepared statement. “This hateful relic, which is not dedicated to anyone, illustrates Palatka’s oppressive past but must not represent its inclusive present and future.”

In August 2020, the Putnam County Board of Commissioners voted to relocate the statue from the courthouse entrance. But SPLC said the decision included demands “designed to hinder the removal.”

“The vote required private citizens, including the Putnam Alliance For Equity and Justice (PAEJ), to raise $200,000 within three months of the Commissioners’ decision. Advocates were barred from being able to accept funds from out-of-county organizations willing to help pay for its removal. The Commissioners also refused to specify a location where the statue could be moved, making it impossible for vendors to offer a quote,” SPLC wrote.

The SPLC and PAEJ are calling for the monument’s immediate removal.