A representative for the City of Orlando said staff have been directed to move forward on the mayor’s suggestion to move a Confederate monument from Lake Eola Park to Greenwood Cemetery.
On Monday night, Mayor Buddy Dyer made the proposal before a packed house at City Hall.
“I’m proposing that we move the statue to a more appropriate location which is Greenwood Cemetery,” said Dyer.
The cemetery, very near the downtown area, has an entire area where Confederate soldiers and their loved ones are buried and features several memorials to those Floridians already. Dyer told his fellow 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 the city’s press secretary said Dyer did not need a council vote in order to make the directive to move it; however, three council members voiced their support for the mayor’s proposal.
The situation arose at the city commission meeting Monday 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.
The city did not have a timeline for the move as of Tuesday afternoon.