LAKELAND, FLA. — The Lakeland City Commission has set a date for when it will decide where to move a Confederate monument in the city's downtown and how to pay for it.
- Lakeland commissioners to discuss relocation of Confederate monument
- Options are: Veterans Park and Roselawn Cemetery
- Cost of relocating monument also an issue
Anthony Bailee said he recently moved to Lakeland to be with his dad and to save Confederate monuments like the one in Lakeland.
"I'm very disappointed that they want to move it. It hurts because it's our soldiers that fought and made what this country is today," Bailee said.
For others in the community, it's a painful reminder of slavery, segregation and oppression. Something they'd rather not see towering over them every time they come to Lakeland's downtown park.
Lakeland NAACP President Reginald Ardis said it's one of the reasons his organization and many others pushed the city commission in December to approve relocating it.
"The monument represents the hatred of the days past and that hatred still lingers," Ardis said.
City staff offered two options in March: move it to Veterans Park or Roselawn Cemetery, where Confederate veterans are buried.
"We prefer they move it to Roselawn Cemetery. We've had a lot of our constituents who, some of them who fought in Vietnam, doesn't feel like the confederacy should be in Veterans Park with other military officers and other military branches," Ardis said.
However, new commissioner Michael Dunn has been pushing to keep the monument where it is. While he hasn't gotten any other commissioners to support him, he also finds the Veterans Park option problematic.
"The current city plan is to reduce the size of the monument to not tower over any other monuments in the area, so now you're tearing up the monument to place it there," Dunn said.
Dunn said he'd rather see the monument moved to private property downtown.
Another issue is the cost of relocating the monument, which city staff estimates will cost up to $225,000. The big question is, will that be funded through taxpayer dollars or through donations.
"I would not want to see city dollars expended for something such as that," Commissioner Phillip Walker said.
"I think folks that want it moved need to figure out a way to come up with the money," Dunn added.
The commission will be debating the issues during its May 7 meeting. Commissioners will also hear from the public before making a decision.