Jacksonville Mayor Removes Confederate Monument After Failing To Receive Approval From City Council

[Screenshot/Twitter/Tristan Hardy]

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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The Democratic mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, removed a confederate monument after failing to receive approval from the city council Wednesday.

Mayor Donna Deegan promised to have the “Women of the Southern Confederacy” monument removed from Springfield Park, according to a statement by the mayor’s office. The removal proceeded Wednesday despite the City Council’s 19 members rejecting the idea and even trying to pass legislation to punish local elected officials who vote to remove historical monuments.

The statue was built during the early 20th century as part of a campaign “to promote and justify” Jim Crow laws and the intimidation of African Americans, the mayor’s office claimed.

“Symbols matter,” the mayor began. “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. 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 statue was located in what was originally known as Confederate Park, which was renamed Springfield Park in 2020, according to News 4 Jax. (RELATED: Richmond Removes Last Confederate Statue From Former Confederate Capital)

Nick Howland, a city council member angered by the removal, compared Deegan to a monarch and said her actions are an “abuse of power,” according to the local outlet.

“Donna Deegan is our Mayor, not our Monarch,” Howland said. “Waiting until the cover of night — on a holiday evening no less — before taking a backhoe to the 100-year-old ‘Women of the South’ monument in Springfield is a blatant overreach of her authority. The City Council Finance Committee specifically mandated that any funding to be spent on the statue – whether for removal, relocation, or contextualization – must follow a Council policy decision. This was unanimously approved by the Council and signed by the Mayor.”

“Regardless of anyone’s personal opinion of this historic monument, Mayor Deegan’s actions are both an abuse of power and a blatant disregard for transparency. This was City Council’s decision to make. Period,” his statement continued.

Many other residents opposed the monument’s removal. Resident Pat Greer said he hopes the legislation punishing council members for removing monuments takes effect, according to News 4 Jax.

City Councilman Jimmy Peluso said he was “excited to see” the monument come down, according to the outlet.

“This was a campaign promise that I made, so I’m incredibly excited to see this,” Peluso said. “I love the amount of folks that are out here this morning. Today is a day for healing. This city needs this big step to be taking place. We don’t need racist iconography in our city anymore.”

Former Mayor Lenny Curry said the removal of the monument would cost approximately $1.29 million in 2021, and the city agreed not to remove it in a June 2022 vote, according to News 4 Jax. The Jussie Ball duPont Fund funded the removal through a grant, the mayor’s office said. The plaques are intended to be removed and replaced with temporary plaques on the statue’s pedestal.