Jacksonville activists upset over Confederate monuments

The Mayors’ Committee focused on ways to “prevent vandalism and destruction of Confederate monuments,” a goal one critic calls a “hoax”.

JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry celebrated the planned demolition of a 13-year-old eyesore on Twitter this week. The demolition of the Berkman II Tower is in keeping with his promise to “transform” downtown.

However, some believe the promise regarding Confederate monuments will not be fulfilled.

Last June, Curry promised to dismantle all of the Confederation’s monuments in front of hundreds in a protest against Black Lives Matter outside a town hall. Hours earlier, he had ordered the removal of the Confederate soldier statue that had stood in the center of the adjacent park for 122 years.

“There was a Confederate memorial in this park yesterday,” said Curry, indicating the empty granite pillar. “It’s gone and the others in this town are also being removed. We hear your voices. We heard your voices. “

This week an unofficial “working group” of six people selected by the mayor to investigate the problem released a report. The report makes a number of recommendations, including that the city not allow outside groups to remove and use monuments or to subsidize this process in any way.

The report also emphasizes: “These monuments are no longer allowed to stand as they are in celebration of the Confederation.”

The report focuses on ways to include and “contextualize” statues rather than removing them. In a statement, the mayor’s office said the group was formed to help Curry:

“… establish a course of action” and no decisions have been made.

“The group was an ad hoc working group that put together information to present to the mayor for review and to help him determine a course of action regarding these monuments,” said spokesman Nikki Kimbleton in an email. “The mayor is still reviewing the information presented to him by the working group and has not yet taken any final decisions on further action.”

The civil rights activist Ben Frazier, president of the Northside Coalition, describes the process of the working group as “secret”. He said it excluded community votes and focused on the wrong target.

He referred to the mission statement of the group, which, according to the report, “proposes possible resolutions to prevent vandalism and the destruction of the monuments”.

“This is initially a mock mission,” said Frazier. “The mayor said he would remove these monuments. I think a more appropriate model would have been: How do we remove Confederate monuments, names and symbols from public spaces and places? And how do we pay for it? “

“The work of this blue ribbon panel is tainted and tainted with political corruption,” Frazier continued. “His mission, his education and his way of working fail the odor test.”

Frazier plans to hold a press conference at 10 a.m. on Monday asking the working group to resume work, this time in a public setting.

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