Anna Lopez Brosche cites deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Citing the deadly weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche wants to begin the process of relocating Confederate monuments away from public property.
In a statement Monday, Brosche said she’s asking the city’s Parks and Recreation and Planning departments to begin to inventory Confederate monuments, memorials and markers on city property.
Brosche said she intends to draft legislation to move the monuments to educational institutions and museums “where they can be respectfully preserved and historically contextualized.”
“It is important to never forget the history of our great city,” Brosche’s statement reads. “And these monuments, memorials and markers represent a time in our history that caused pain to so many.”
Mayor Lenny Curry said while he respects Brosche’s decision, he remains focused on his priorities of public safety and investing in programs for children and that “the priorities of the City Council are their own.”
“I encourage them to have this discussion and debate and if they pass legislation, I’ll evaluate it at that time,” he said.
The topic has come up during the public comment period at recent council meetings as supporters and opponents of Confederate monuments voiced their opinions.
In her statement, Brosche cites examples where Confederate memorabilia was removed at public places in other Florida cities, and the violence in Charlottesville as reasons for the proposed relocation.
On Saturday, the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville sparked clashes between white nationalist groups and counter protesters that resulted in three deaths.
Curry said he “completely rejects” the events in Charlottesville and that actions by white nationalist groups “make me sick.”
“Nazis, Neo-Nazis, KKK, white supremacists, they’re not what the United States is about, they’re not what Jacksonville’s about, and not what humanity should be about,” Curry said.
Curry said he is in contact with Sheriff Mike Williams to make sure police can “mitigate any conflict and prevent it from happening” during sporting events or rallies where people gather and express free speech. “That doesn’t change,” he said.
The next council meeting is 5 p.m. Aug. 22.
Business groups JAX Chamber and the Jacksonville Civic Council issued statements Monday afternoon.
“The violence in Charlottesville was disgusting, hateful and does not represent who we are as a country,” said JAX Chamber President Daniel Davis in a statement.
He said the chamber historically has taken a stand on civil rights issues in the community, “and I would expect us to be at the forefront of any discussion on removing Confederate monuments from city property.”
Davis said the chamber’s board of directors makes policy decisions for the organization and he has spoken with Chair Darnell Smith.
“We plan to bring this discussion to the board at our next meeting,” he said, which is Friday.
Civic Council Chairman Ed Burr issued a statement that the council “will evaluate and weigh in on any legislation introduced on the matter. Our vision of Jacksonville holds no room for hate.”
Burr said the Civic Council, a group of the city’s leading business and civic leaders, opposes racism and discrimination in every form “and seeks to advance a culture of fairness and respect for all.”
He said the council commends Curry and Brosche “for taking the lead to thoughtfully consider removal of Confederate monuments from local public property, particularly in light of the tragic events of last weekend.”