Call for removal of Confederate statue at Lake Eola

- An Orlando man wants the city to take action to remove the downtown Confederate Soldiers Monument before the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

David Porter will go before the city commission on Monday to ask city leaders to start doing something about the controversial statue.

"The only decision to make here, as far as I'm concerned is do you want to bulldoze it here before lunch or after lunch?" said Porter.

Porter, a former columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, said that he was reminded about the monument recently and was surprised to see it still standing in the park.

In 2015 a local group began demanding the city remove the statue; after the Charleston church shooting that June. At that point a city representative said staff launched a study into the statue and possible options for it.
Porter said with the Pulse shooting anniversary just 1 month away, it’s time to stop studying and start moving.

The city is set to hold a day of remembrance called Orlando United Day, and Porter said the statue, which sits in Lake Eola Park where several of the events will take place close by, goes against the message.

"This is a symbol of white supremacy,” he said. "We talk about Orlando United - well you can't say united when you have something as divisive as this that's still up here."

Porter will not have an easy road though.  The city’s press secretary said Thursday that public comment on the statue had been about 50-50 so far and many at the park that day reflected those views. Some sat in Porter’s camp saying that the state was a reminder of a racist past and a symbol of hate, but others said it’s history that can’t be erased.

"Why do you want to do that?” said Julie Jones. “Are you going to rewrite the history book too and tear out pages? I don't think so."

The statue was placed in the park in 1911 by the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy. Several fans of the statue pointed to the inscription on the base that reflects it  as a memorial to the soldiers who fought and died during the Civil War and, as one passer-by put it, not a monument to the issues of the war.

The one month time frame may be asking a lot as well.  The City’s Press Secretary said a decision or any sort of action on the statue is not expected any time soon. She said the city commission has a responsibility to the citizens to do their due diligence and not rush to any decisions. She also said that the statue is not historically protected, so any options for its future could be on the table – from removing it to taking no action at all.

Porter said he will continue to put pressure on the situation though.

"Put it in the history center,” he said, “it's less than a mile from here. Put it in the history center, or put it in the landfill."

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