Protesters want Confederate statues removed

Protesters hope city will reconsider decision to keep 2 statues in place

By Destiny McKeiver - Multi-media journalist

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Protesters in the streets of St. Augustine are demanding two Confederate statues come down.

It happened as people gathered for the city's annual Nights of Lights.

Hundreds of people showed up to Saturday night's rally. Since then, the protest has come to an end.

It comes even after the city voted to keep the statues.

Some people respected the message the protesters were trying to get across -- they want all Confederate statues removed from the city. Others said this was not the right venue for a protest and they were disappointed.

"Basically, they're always going to tell us that it's the wrong time, that we shouldn't be coming out and that people are going to see us, but we talk to you guys, you didn't listen, so now I mean it's to the point if you're not going to listen to us, we're going to protest here," Maria Garcia said.

Garcia is one of hundreds of protesters. Some were with Take Em Down Jax and others with local churches, like St. Paul AME in St. Augustine. All of them had one message.

"I want to walk in the footsteps of MLK," Garcia said. "He came and he would lead marches. I'm here because I oppose the Confederate monuments because to me, they are symbols of hate."

The protesters marched from St. Paul and into the St. Augustine Plaza.

As performances for Nights of Lights took place, the protesters continued marching their way through.

"I was offended," Nights of Lights attendee Kathy Terry said. "I felt like these people up there put their time and effort into doing this for the community and the people who brought their family and small kids out. That was supposed to be special for them."

In Saturday night's crowd, there were also some counterprotesters who say not only was this the wrong venue for a protest, but they believe the Confederate statues should stay.

"It's my belief that we should never erase our history," Gabby Emerick said. "Our young people need to remember what our country was founded on and how it was developed."

Nights of Lights goes through Jan. 31. It's unclear if the group plans to protest there each day of the event.

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