JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Before the start of the Jacksonville Jaguars game on Sunday, an airplane flew over TIAA Bank Field with a banner in tow showing the Confederate flag.
The banner also had a message: “PUT MONUMENTS BACK.”
The group Save Southern Heritage (SSH) claimed responsibility for the message in a news release.
“This is a Thanksgiving gift to the people of these cities who are suffering under these cancel culture tyrants. We’ve been opposing canceled culture in several different venues,” said Kirk Lyons, SSH spokesman. “A lot of these monument removals have been castigated as leader monuments to white supremacy, which is complete and utter nonsense. These are works of art that belong to the public, not to elected officials.”
The group Take Em Down Jax, which advocates for the removal of the statues, said the city has been dragging its feet.
“I’ve said to city council that it is very disrespectful and insulting to the black community, that we have to keep going over this over and over again. If you’re against canceling white supremacy and racism, then I think you need to examine your beliefs,” said Wells Todd, Take Em Down Jax spokesperson.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry quickly condemned the message.
“As I’ve said before, there is no place for hate of any kind in our City. My position on monuments remains clear, I have allocated money for removal and empowered city council to take action,” Curry tweeted.
The Jacksonville City Council earlier this year voted against a resolution that asked Curry and the city to propose a plan that would budget $500,000 to remove remaining Confederate monuments in Jacksonville.
The debate comes two years after Curry said they need to come down. A controversial monument still stands uncovered in Springfield Park. It is now the focus of much attention, dividing the council and many people living in the city.
The one monument removed two years ago was of a Confederate soldier that sat atop a pedestal, located across from City Hall in what was then called Hemming Park. The name has since been changed to James Weldon Johnson Park. Many thought it meant a change in Jacksonville.
“In Jacksonville, Mayor Lenny Curry, in the middle of the night on June 9, 2020, desecrated the historic Hemming Plaza Cenotaph by removing the elements of the memorial in knee jerk cancel culture reaction to the George Floyd death,” SSH said.
SSH proposed taking the decision to the ballots and letting residents vote on the issue.
Save Southern Heritage says they did a poll in Jacksonville where 75% of people opposed their removal.
“If Jacksonville was to take down a monument, put it on a ballot, let the people vote on it. And we’re not afraid of that at all,” Lyons said.
Todd, however, does not agree with SSH’s proposal.
“I don’t think you would vote on whether or not to put a statue up of Hitler. This is about morality here. This is not something you go to the polls and vote on,” Todd said.