Lakeland city commissioners met Monday to decide the fate of the Confederate monument at Munn Park. After several hours of debate, they passed a motion to have city staff analyze moving the Confederate statue to another location, such as Veterans Park.
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The motion passed 4-3 with support of Commissioners Selvage, Troller, Walker, and Malless.
Motion on the floor is to have city staff analyze moving statue to another location such as veterans' park. It passed 4 to 3. Commissioner Malless, Walker, Troller, and Selvage voted in favor of it.— Stephanie Claytor (@ClaytorReports) December 4, 2017
During the public comment portion of the meeting, 67 people spoke on the topic. Forty-four were in favor of moving the statue, while 16 wanted to keep it where it was. Two asked that the issue go to a public vote, according to the City of Lakeland.
Opinions ranged from Don Brown with the NAACP saying he doesn't want to see tax dollars spent maintaining the monument, to a resident saying removing the monument is waging war against the dead.
Commissioners were initially set to vote on a resolution to keep the monument in place and possibly add one or more additional monuments to reflect the historical progress in civil rights. That resolution, however, did not gather enough support to reach a vote.
The monument was built in 1910 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Critics of the statue say it is a reminder of slavery and Jim Crow laws of the old South.
Prior to the meeting Monday, Mayor Howard Wiggs and Commissioners Edie Yates and Phillip Walker who said they supported keeping the statue in place and adding additional monuments. Commissioner Bill Read said he supported keeping the monument in place.