Calls To Remove Confederate Monument From Historic Florida Capitol Lawn Renewed

Jun 16, 2020
Originally published on June 16, 2020 5:16 pm

Renewed calls are ringing out for state leadership to remove the confederate monument from the lawn of Florida’s Historic Capitol in Tallahassee.

“It’s part of a revisionist history used against minorities in our state as a symbol of hatred and false supremacy,” said prominent progressive political consultant Kevin Cate.

Cate, who lives in Tallahassee, wrote a new op-ed that has run in newspapers across Florida in recent days. But Cate has been calling for the monument to come down for years. He’s says it isn’t just hurtful to many in the state – he calls what’s written on the monument “fake history.”

“That memorial was not put up for history, because the history is inaccurate: Among other things, it puts Gettysburg in Virginia and makes up three Florida battles that didn’t really happen in a way that should be glorified by anyone,” Cate said Monday. “It was put up as a sort of symbol, a sort of weapon against minorities in our state, and I think the time is long past due for us to bring it down.”

Cate notes others, including state legislators like Representative Geraldine Thompson, have joined in asking for its removal. He adds the monument was moved to its current spot in 1923 at the direction of Florida’s governor. He says current Governor Ron DeSantis has the power to have it removed.

“One of the most frustrating parts about this is the previous administration, Rick Scott, kind of feigned interest in taking it down," Cate said. "Lawmakers feigned interest in taking it down, and they kind of got caught in a limbo of, whose job is it to take it down? Ultimately, it’s the Florida governor’s job.”

Confederate Monuments Florida
Gary Fineout/AP

This Aug. 15, 2017, photo shows a 138-year-old Confederate monument in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary Fineout)

Cate says if the governor won’t remove the monument, it would become a job for the Florida Cabinet.

Former state legislator Dwight Bullard, who now heads progressive advocacy group New Florida Majority, addressed the monument during a recent conference call hosted by Florida Democrats. He says it’s a symbol of larger racial disparities in Florida, like those in healthcare, nutrition and banking.

“All those things are intertwined with an institutional and systemic racism, that cannot just be fixed by policy alone,” Bullard said. “It does take a willingness to change hearts and minds, and more importantly an acknowledgement by people in positions of power around the state that we’ve done wrong. You know, right there on the Capitol grounds is still a confederate monument.”

Calls for the Capitol’s confederate monument to topple come after Gadsden County removed a confederate monument outside of its courthouse last week, and others have been dismantled around the U.S.

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