Jacksonville Debates Removing Confederate Monuments as Activists Threaten Boycott

Groups in Jacksonville are telling the city to remove local Confederate monuments or face a city-wide boycott

The groups TakeEmDownJax, TakeEmDownEverywhere and the Northside Coalition insist if Jacksonville doesn’t remove Confederate monuments “there will be an economic boycott of the city” insists Ben Frazier, the leader of the Northside Coalition.

Frazier said for almost two years Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and the Jacksonville City Council have ignored the groups’ calls for taking down the monuments. Frazier has said if the city removes the monuments there will be no boycott.

WBOB radio morning co-host and news director Roger Henderson questioned the call for a boycott.

Henderson told Florida Daily that the same groups calling for the removal of Confederate monuments are also demanding the city of Jacksonville immediately take down the names of Confederate leaders off public buildings and street signs.

“I don’t get it,” Henderson said. “Black leaders are calling for a boycott of a city that heavily employs those in the black community. Don’t these leaders realize the city boycott will hurt those in the black community?”

Henderson also noted callers listening to the radio show have proposed instead of taking down Confederate monuments, why not build new ones honoring local African-Americans.

That doesn’t seem to play well with the local activist groups. At a recent rally, around 140 people showed their support of taking down the Confederate monuments with Frazier insisting “Jacksonville is a racist city which refuses to deal with these Confederate monuments” which will lead to a boycott.

Still, there have been some efforts in recent years. The name of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate cavalry general who helped form the KKK and had no connection to Northeast Florida, was removed from a Jacksonville high school after several years of debate. There are other schools in the area named after Confederate leaders including Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Edmund Kirby Smith, Joseph Finnegan, Jeb Stuart and others. More recently, the state Senate removed the Confederate battle flag off of its seal. Last year, Florida removed the statue of Kirby Smith, a Confederate general who was born in St. Augustine but had little ties to the state otherwise, from Statutory Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

Florida state Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, filed a bill that would make it illegal to remove a public monument for any reason other than repairs or relocation to an equally prominent place.Hill’s bill would prohibit Florida communities from tearing down Confederate monuments.

Hill, who is African American, disagrees with groups that want to take down Confederate monuments.

“Keeping these statues up is about preserving history and providing education,” Hill said.

With the legislative session already halfway over, Hill’s bill has failed to gain any traction and has not even been before committee yet.

 

Contact Ed at Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com.

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