LAKELAND, Fla. (WTSP) -- A small group of protesters gathered around the Confederate monument in Lakeland’s Munn Park Sunday night for a candlelight vigil. Organizers said the plan to protest every Sunday until the statue is moved.
For a moment, tensions were high between those protesters and a small group of people who showed up who want it to stay. It never escalated beyond a conversation, though.
Last month, a Confederate statue in Tampa was boarded up and is ready to move. County officials moved on in Bradenton overnight. Now, the protest is in a new location, but the arguments are the same.
Some say having a Confederate statue in the heart of downtown Lakeland sends the wrong message.
“It's intimidating. I don't come down here at all,” Loretta Halliburton said. “I don't like it. It makes me uncomfortable, and I've been here for 10 years.”
Those who want it to stay argued it’s a part of American history and honors veterans.
“All these men who died in the Civil War, whether it was for the Union or for the Confederate, they're American veterans,” Matthew Gardner said.
Edgar Pickett, a local pastor, said it doesn't matter where the statue is if people don't change the way they feel about each other.
“Let it stay, or remove it. What's the difference to me if there's not a heart change?” he asked.
Last month, Lakeland's City Commission brought up the monument in its meeting. They want to bring together a group of people from different backgrounds to talk about it before they make any decisions.
© 2017 WTSP-TV