Northside Coalition leader addresses city council month after removal in handcuffs

Ben Frazier & other Jacksonville activist groups continue calls for city to remove remaining Confederate monuments

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ben Frazier, the leader of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, led a rally Tuesday evening and spoke in front of the city council for the first time since his removal in handcuffs from a December meeting.

Frazier was charged that night with misdemeanor trespassing and resisting arrest after he refused to leave the podium on Dec. 13. He’s said he’s fighting to get those charges dropped.

Tuesday night’s meeting was much more tame, but the council did have to quiet the audience a few times.

Frazier and the Northside Coalition are continuing their call to remove Jacksonville’s remaining memorials to the Confederacy. The issue also remains a priority of other organizations like Take ‘Em Down Jax and the Jacksonville Community Action Committee.

Dozens of people came to the microphone to speak directly to the council. They’re pointing to a pillar that remains standing in James Weldon Johnson Park, which is right outside Jacksonville City Hall, and also the Daughters of the Confederacy monument in Springfield Park — formerly known as Confederate Park.

Frazier has been spearheading the effort to get the monuments taken down from public places, arguing that they were only put up as a means of legitimizing the endeavors of the Confederacy, which was a movement rooted in white supremacy and fought to preserve slavery.

Those arguing to keep the monuments have recently begun calling for the monuments to instead be contextualized, meaning the monument would remain, but additional information would be posted with it to provide historical context.

Opponents of the monuments say history is recorded in books and should be taught and contextualized in school, and that monuments are reserved specifically to honor people or ideas — something they say the Confederacy does not deserve.

“I’m saying, stand up for what your momma taught you. Right and wrong. Stand on the right said of history,” Frazier told the council. “Stand on the word of God. Time for Jacksonville to repent from racism and oppression. Do the right thing. Remove the Confederate monuments.”

Mayor Lenny Curry budgeted $500,000 to move the monuments, and the city council kept it in the budget, but added a provision that the council could direct that funding. The council hasn’t directed it yet. Previous funding proposals to move the monuments have been voted down by the council.

The groups that spoke out Monday night said they’ll continue doing so until Jacksonville no longer has any monuments honoring the confederacy.