Raucous Crowd Removed From Council Meeting Over Removal of Confederate Tribute Statue

A meeting to discuss a Confederate monument in a Florida park turned rowdy, forcing council members to vote out the crowd, the Associated Press reported.

Jacksonville City Council members had to remove the audience during a debate to dismantle the "Tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederacy" monument from Springfield Park. Around 90 residents were originally scheduled for public comment, but the debate that ensued heated up the crowd. Council President Sam Newby ordered the removal, with the council meeting continuing after the public were escorted out.

Attendants from both sides of the debate had things to say regarding the meeting.

"Common sense says we should remove monuments of racial hatred from public property," said Ben Frazier, president of the local organization Northside Coalition of Jacksonville.

During the meeting, however, one undisclosed participant said the statue's removal, originally proposed by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, was the result of cancel culture.

"This bullying has got to stop," she said. "The lame excuse the statue is hindering the growth of the city is a joke."

After the audience was removed, the city council voted 12-6 to withdraw Curry's motion. Member Reggie Gaffney said that the vote would give leaders within the city the "chance to regroup," suggesting that a committee be formed to determine what to do next.

Curry released a statement on the decision shortly afterward.

"Tonight," he tweeted, "the City Council disappointingly denied a step toward real progress in our city by refusing to vote on the removal of a divisive monument from public land."

Newby told reporters that he is unsure whether a committee or any other steps toward a resolution will be made soon.

"We're going to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with all of the monuments here in Jacksonville," he said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Jacksonville monument
A Confederate monument previously located near Jacksonville's City Hall building is pictured in 2017. A proposal to remove a similar monument in the city's Springfield Park has been temporarily voted down. Joe Raedle/Getty

Curry had requested $1.3 million to cover the costs of dismantling and removing the granite and bronze monument.

Frazier said protesters are prepared to launch nonviolent civil disobedience actions, demonstrations at city-owned buildings and area shopping malls, and possibly boycotts if the monument isn't removed.

Dozens of monument supporters wearing red shirts also attended the meeting. The groups briefly exchanged chants of "leave it up," and "take 'em down" outside City Hall before the meeting.

The mayor had wanted the council to take an up-or-down vote on the proposal, news outlets reported.

Newby said he would like to see a recommendation before his term ends next June.

Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes told reporters that the mayor "made a very clear policy statement" for a path to a resolution "that ends this divisiveness and removes from city property something that some in our community see as an expression of racial hatred."

Instead, he said, the council instead "kicked the can down the road."