Lakeland leaders make historic decision to move confederate monument

LAKELAND, Fla. — A historic moment occurred Monday for the City of Lakeland as commissioners voted 4-3 to remove a confederate statue that has stood for the last 107 years.

“It needs to be removed and put into its proper historical perspective,” said a speaker during the six hour long board meeting.

Even after listening to 66 speakers, it was a decision that was not easy to make for the commissioners.

“620,000 or more died on both sides and it just commemorates the dead...nobody else,” another speaker said with passion.

Many people spoke up both for and against removing the statue from the downtown area of Lakeland.

History of the city’s founder and their own personal history was brought up during the discussion.

“It is of offensive to me,” a woman said with conviction after explaining how her ancestors were enslaved, and in another generation forced into segregation.

City leaders who erected the statue in 1910, whose pictures still hang on the wall, obviously couldn’t speak to the reason why the monument was placed in the middle of the city. That's why they decided to leave the decision to the modern-day board on whether or not to leave the statue that offends and oppressive its citizen’s, according to those that spoke, or to remove it and put it in another part of the town.

“It needs to be moved to an appropriate location,” another speaker said.

Both long-time residents and new ones like Trinity Laurino, say it misrepresents Lakeland. 

“As we were exploring it and saw that statue downtown it really became something that was an embarrassment I felt like to the city,” Laurino said.

A new motion offered three options for a new location: Veterans Memorial Park, Lake Mirror or possibly City Hall, none of which were decided on Monday.

“Leave it where it is please,” an early speaker said.

The commissioner says the decision, not made in haste, was decided on important factors like history, today’s social values and how its citizen feel about the statue. 

“It’s a gathering place for the city and it should be welcoming to all people of Lakeland,” Laurino said.

When or where the monument will be moved has not been decided.

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