Jax Chamber supports Confederate statue inventory

By Jim Piggott - Reporter, Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The area’s leading business group issued a statement Friday, supporting the City Council president’s call to inventory Confederate statues on public space. 

City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche on Wednesday called for the removal of Confederate monuments from Jacksonville city property.

She had announced Monday that she wants Confederate monuments inventoried, with the goal of moving them off city property.

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce issued a statement regarding Brosche’s call to inventory the Confederate monuments.

JAX Chamber has a long history of working to ensure equal opportunity for all people. We believe in the dignity, goodness and respect of all citizens. We vehemently condemn individuals and groups that promote the despicable acts of prejudice, hate, discrimination, bigotry and racism which have no place in our community.

We support the effort to inventory all of Jacksonville’s public monuments and conduct a swift, honest and thoughtful look at who we honor, and more importantly, who is missing from our public landscape. Discussions should include how we heal wounds that may still persist from our past. Among those should be a consideration of how we memorialize our city’s history in public spaces, and will most certainly involve additional tributes to Jacksonville’s historical leaders.

There is much to celebrate about Jacksonville and our storied past. JAX Chamber will always be engaged in solutions for the challenges we face. Together we will move forward and with a united purpose we will write chapters our city’s history.

Brosche's statement drew a small group of protesters to her workplace on Wednesday.

Three people arrived about 11 a.m. outside Anna Lopez Brosche's Southside office, where she works as a certified public accountant. They were carrying Confederate flags.

“We are trying to make a point to her, and we're going to do this in many places,” said Seber Newsome, of Save Southern Heritage. “She's made the wrong decision trying to do this in Jacksonville.”

The small group outside Brosche's office said there should be a referendum to let voters decide what should happen.

Brosche was not in the office Wednesday. 

Brosche told News4Jax earlier this week that she believes the division on the issue was there before her announcement on the statues, and she is well aware of what could happen if the statues come down.

"The reality is that JSO is prepared," Brosche said. "They understand what's happening. They've seen what's happening across the country. I think it's important that people have the opportunity to express how they feel about it, to demonstrate if they would like to. I hope that we do so in a civil and orderly manner."

Isaiah Rumlin, president of the Jacksonville branch of the NAACP, told News4Jax on Wednesday that the civil rights organization supports Brosche's endeavor. 

"Those monuments need to be in a museum or in some other place -- not on government-owned properties," Rumlin said. "We, as African-Americans and other people of color, we understand and do not appreciate what those symbols mean. They are symbols of hatred, discrimination, bigotry and any other adjective you want to use."

The fight between those wanting to remove Confederate monuments in Jacksonville and those who want them to stay has become more vocal after violence erupted over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, between armed white supremacists rallying in support of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and counterprotesters.

A peaceful demonstration Tuesday night in Jacksonville's Confederate Park saw dozens on both sides of the debate gather.

Among those at the demonstration were members of the Take ‘Em Down Jax group and other activist groups, who voiced support for Brosche’s proposal to have Confederate monuments in Jacksonville removed and donated to schools and museums.

Despite the back-and-forth banter between both sides, the event, which lasted 45 minutes, remained peaceful.

Activists said the city is likely to see more protests as the issue continues to gain steam.

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