Decision close on move for Lakeland Confederate monument

By Rick Elmhorst, Anchor\Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 05, 2017, 4:30 PM EDT

City commissioners are getting closer to deciding what to do about a Confederate soldier monument in downtown Lakeland's Munn Park.  The monument has become the focus of renewed local debate as monuments with Confederate ties are debated in other parts of the country.

  • Lakeland NAACP believes monument should be moved
  • Some area African American residents not opposed to monument staying
  • Suggestion floated to build African American monument alongside

Lakeland resident Ashley Troutman, who is African American, is advocating a compromise he believes may be acceptable to many residents. He believes the Munn Park monument should stay where it is, and he would also like to see another monument built next to it, one that honors Lakeland’s African American history in some way.

"We believe this option creates the best opportunity to promote unity, not division, hope, not despair, understanding, not forgetting,” he said during Tuesday’s city commission meeting.

Troutman said he has heard from a number of black Lakeland residents who are not offended by the monument. He believes keeping it and adding something next to it will keep history in perspective.

”The full picture is more clear when we encapsulate it all together,” he said.

The commission’s lone black member Phillip Walker, isn’t opposed to keeping the monument where it is, either. He quoted former NBA star and analyst Charles Barkley on the monument issue: "I'm not going to waste my time worrying about all these confederate statues around the country,” he said.

The Lakeland NAACP, on the other hand, sees the monument as a symbol of oppression that should be moved.

"The NAACP would like to see the monument removed from the government properties,” said Lakeland NAACP president Reginald Ardis.

City commissioners voted to hold a public meeting on the monument issue. That may happen in October.