Lakeland commissioners discuss moving Confederate statue

The debate for and against Lakeland Confederate Monument

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The debate over whether confederate statues should stay or go has made its way to Lakeland.

A statue of a Confederate soldier has stood in Munn Park for over a century. City commissioners discussed moving it last year, but following recent race-related violence in Charlottesville, Va., Commissioner Don Selvage said city leaders have to take action.

“Whatever decision we make, we will be criticized for it,” he said.

Selvage brought up the topic during Monday morning’s city commissioner meeting. During public comment, Residents spoke on both sides of the debate. 

“It represents the South fighting to keep me enslaved,” said Audrey Figg, who added that her ancestors were slaves.

Others argued that it represents the sacrifice Confederate soldiers made, and getting rid of it could be a slippery slope.

“Where does this end, if we keep allowing people to tear down our history, simply because they don't like what it represented,” Bill Montsdeoca said.

Commissioners were not united one way or another: Jim Malless wants it moved, Phillip Walker argued to leave it.

“If you don't like me cause I'm black, us moving a statue or taking down a flag does not change that,” Walker said. “Your heart needs to be changed.”

instead of moving it, city leaders could add a plaque to give the statue context or erect a statue of a black historical figure, Selvage said.

Commissioners did agree to not rush into a decision. They plan to discuss the issue at their next meeting and are considering forming a group to further look into the issue.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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