LAKELAND, Fla. -- It took the city of Tampa less than 24 hours to raise more than $100,000 to move its confederate monument from the Hillsborough County courthouse.
- City has raised only portion of money needed to move monument
- One Lakeland commissioner said many residents didn't want it moved
- Resident starts fundraising effort; links below
That's not the case in Lakeland.
More than a month has passed, and the city has only raised $8,970, as of June 11, toward relocating its confederate monument from the center of Munn Park, which is in the core of its downtown.
The city is asking the public to donate $225,000 to relocate the monument to Veterans Park.
Commissioner Michael Dunn said he's pleased.
"I think that's pretty good evidence that the greater percentage of Lakeland residents really don't want it moved," he said.
Ever since he came into office in January, Dunn has been pushing the commission to pass motions that would keep the monument where it is, but he hasn't received any support.
The city has been asking for donations since May 7, when the commission voted unanimously to relocate the monument to Veterans Park instead of Roselawn Cemetery.
"People like to complain but they never seem to do much about it," Dunn said.
Children's book author Fred Koehler said the fundraising effort is a big joke on social media.
- Link to auction to move monument
- Link to donate to city's GoFundMe page
- Link to more information on monument move
"There are a lot of folks mocking it," Fred Koehler said.
The Peace Corps alum doesn't think it's funny. He is one of the people who really wants to see the monument moved. He has even prayed on it.
"I don't believe it represents the values of Lakeland," Koehler said.
He has created an online auction to allow people to donate items and their services. The money raised from bidders will then go directly to the city's monument relocation fund.
"While I'm hopeful that some big money donor will come in and put a huge chunk to this effort, I also don’t want any of the artistic community in Lakeland to feel left out. I want us to have the chance to participate so this auction provides that opportunity," Koehler said.
He's hoping more people will donate to the auction. So far, he has about a dozen who have either donated items or their services.
"We're just looking for anybody who's got something of value that they're willing to put into the auction, but mostly what I'm looking for is talented individuals who are willing to give their time. So that could be an attorney, a designer, a photographer," Koehler explained.
Koehler said as soon as he gets more than 25 people to donate, he'll start taking bids online.
He hopes the auction will motivate some of the wealthy people in the Tampa Bay area to chip to pay for the monument's relocation.