‘Clear double standard’: Mayor Deegan calls out city council for outrage following removal of Confederate monument

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan called out the Republican-led city council and said the outrage surrounding the removal of the Confederate monument in Springfield Park a “manufactured controversy.”

The monument’s removal was also a hot-button issue at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

On Thursday, council members will once again hear from the city’s top lawyer and his staff, who’ve already said the decision to remove the monument from Springfield Park was within the mayor’s authority.

That decision involved using private donations, not city funds, to remove the statue.

RELATED | Despite outcry, Mayor Deegan says she had legal authority to remove Confederate monument, and it wasn’t a secret

Ahead of Thursday’s meeting, the mayor released this statement:

“It has been nearly one month since the last Confederate monument was removed from Springfield Park. Yet some members of the City Council continue to take political cheap shots and try to create distractions to undermine the mayor…removal of the Hemming statue in James Weldon Johnson Park never went through the City of Jacksonville Procurement Division. In a clear double standard with the previous administration, past City Councils have not previously scrutinized contract awards to this degree.”

That decision Deegan referneced was made in 2020 under former Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

News4JAX was there in December of last year, as crews removed the monument from Springfield Park. It was dedicated to the Women of the Confederacy.

The city council’s review of the Springfield monument’s removal comes as Council President Ron Salem pushes for legislation that would prevent private funds from being used similarly.

Several people spoke out during Tuesday’s meeting, both for and against the statute’s removal.

“Why would you inflict shame upon the removing an icon, a tribute if you will in secrecy. The only shame is the signature it took to remove this icon to women,” a resident said.

Others said this action was needed so the community could heal.

“That was necessary because as long as that symbol of hate existed we couldn’t move forward,” another resident said.

Thursday’s meeting will be held at City Hall and runs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

MORE | Legal questions remain following removal of Confederate monument from Springfield Park

There’s also a development on the state level.

A bill that would give the governor power to suspend or remove local officials who move or destroy monuments, advanced in a senate committee on Monday. Some Republican lawmakers want it to be retroactive.

The House version hasn’t been through any committees.

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