ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The Orlando City Commission on Monday wouldn’t act on or discuss, in depth, a suggestion to relocate the Lake Eola Confederate Soldier Monument, but Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer did offer his own statement about the controversial statue’s future.
“I’m proposing that we move the statue to a more appropriate location which is Greenwood Cemetery,” said
Dyer spoke to a large crowd in the city hall chambers. The cemetery, very near the downtown area, has an entire section where Confederate soldiers and their loved ones are buried, and it features several memorials to those Floridians already. Dyer told his council members and the public that he and many others see the statue as a marker of history, dedicated to the fallen, and that the cemetery may be a better place for it to continue serving that purpose.
“I believe this proposal balances the inclusive morals of our community today while carefully preserving the historic artifacts from our past,” said Dyer.
The topic of the statue was not on the city commission agenda Monday, but created a stir when a local resident publicly stated last week that he would attend the meeting to speak out against the statue.
That one man’s statement set off a sort of fire storm as dozens showed up in front of City Hall Monday to debate the statue. Many carried Confederate Flags and spoke about the history and the memory of the soldiers served by the statue. Many others sided with the citizen standing against it though, saying that the statue represented hate and marginalized the black community in the city.
At points, the situation became very heated outside of City Hall as protesters from each side got in each other’s faces, some hurled insults, and some tried to be heard over their opposition. Inside the council chambers the situation was almost as heated as about 55 citizens signed up to give their opinions to the commission. Several members of the crowd cheered at the opinions they agreed with and some even burst out yelling in opposition at those they disagreed with.
The statue sits on the east side of Lake Eola park atop a large stone pedestal. The monument was donated by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1911 and moved into the park in 1918. Since then it’s occasionally aroused controversy, especially in recent years as calls have been sounded nationwide to remove such monuments.
After the last such movement in 2015, city leaders began looking into their options with the Lake Eola statue and studying what, if anything to do with it in the future. Last week a city spokesperson said no decisions had been made or were expected anytime soon.
If the city commission does decide to take some sort of action against the statue the commission would have a lot of options. City leaders say the statue, unlike many others, is not considered a historic monument and is not protected as such.