A Confederate monument was recently removed from a park in Jacksonville, Florida, after orders from the city’s mayor.
Crews removed the Tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederacy monument from the city’s Springfield park on December 27. The monument had been in the park since 1915.
Mayor Donna Deegan said the decision to order the monument’s removal was not an attempt to erase history, but to show that people had learned from it.
“Symbols matter. They tell the world what we stand for and what we aspire to be. By removing the confederate monument from Springfield Park, we signal a belief in our shared humanity. That we are all created equal. The same flesh and bones. The same blood running through our veins. The same heart and soul,” Deegan said in a statement. “This is not in any way an attempt to erase history but to show that we’ve learned from it. That when we know better, we do better by and for each other. My prayer today is for our beautiful city to continue embracing unity and bending the arc of history towards justice. Let’s keep lifting as we climb.”
The Washington Post reported that a TV station’s live stream allowed “both critics and supporters of the monument to watch” the dismantling of the monument by construction crews. The paper also reported that early cost estimates for its removal were as high as $2 million.
The removal comes after years of discussion, starting with Deegan’s predecessor in 2020.
In June of that year, Mayor Lenny Curry ordered the removal of a statue and plaque honoring Confederate soldiers in another city park. It happened only weeks after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers, spurring marches across the United States for social justice and national discussions about the legacy of Confederate monuments.
The city’s statement said the cost of removing Tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederacy was $187,000. Funding for the work, including the removal of a plaque, came from a grant and anonymous donations to the local organization 904WARD.
The mayor’s decision to remove the monument was criticized by Florida Representative Dean Black, chair of the Republican Party of Duval County. Black called the monument’s removal “a stunning abuse of power.”
“This action, undertaken in the middle of the night, during the holidays, without consultation of city leaders or a vote by the council, is another in a long line of woke Democrats obsession with Cancel Culture and tearing down history,” Black wrote in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter). “Choosing to erase our history is not “brave” – it is a cowardly act done by a lawless Mayor who hides under the cover of night! We call on the City Council to seek immediate accountability – the people of Jacksonville expect no less.”
However, the mayor’s decision to remove the Confederate monument did not require approval from Jacksonville’s city council because city funds were not being used.
Michael Fackler, Jacksonville’s general counsel, issued a statement explaining the mayor’s executive authority.
“Our legal analysis finds that Mayor Deegan has the authority as executive of the City – and because city funds are not being utilized – to control the property, the park, and the monument,” Fackler said. “We have worked closely with Procurement, Public Works, and Parks on the approved scope of work in accordance with municipal code in how we contract for and complete these services.”
The monument will remain in city storage until members of the community and the city council can determine what to do with it, officials told the Associated Press.