JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville-based activist group held a rally at Hemming Plaza Sunday to intensify its push to remove Confederate monuments from public parks.
Occupy Jacksonville held a “Rally for Change” downtown to kick off its “Take ‘Em Down Jax” campaign. A spokesperson for the group said the Confederate monuments in some Jacksonville public parks support white supremacy and slavery and “should not be honored on public property.”
The group said they plan to convince city leaders to remove the monuments by implementing a multimedia educational effort.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office blocked off roads near Hemming Plaza and had a SWAT team present to make sure a violent clash didn’t break out between people waving Confederate flags and protesters with Occupy Jacksonville.
In his speech at the rally, civil rights activist Ben Frazier said Jacksonville “must decide whether to march into the sunlight of a brand-new day or face economic and social disaster by its refusal to let go of its racist legacy.”
“It’s time for Jacksonville to assume a Super Bowl mentality and attitude to stop fighting the civil war and become a city that is too busy to hate,” Frazier said. “The Confederate monuments must go.”
Frazier called on Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and the City Council to lead by example and not let Jacksonville become another “hotbed of controversy like Charlottesville.”
“To make this a ballot issue for a referendum would be an open invitation for trouble by violent white nationalists and other domestic terrorist groups who would descend on Jacksonville like locusts,” Frazier said.
Counterprotesters told News4jax that the monument represents America's history and shouldn't be taken down.
"The whole thing is just an attack on history," counterprotester John Wood said. "So I'm out here in support of history, saying why can't we have a balanced statement like this park does."
A member of the organizers told News4Jax that the group will be protesting every weekend until monuments such as the one in Hemming Plaza comes down.
"We're tired of writing letters. Tired of being unheard voices. We're going to be here every week protesting to take this down," protester Keiara Payne said. "It's going to come down. So I hope you got a good picture of it, because it's coming down."
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