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Jacksonville council president wants Confederate monuments off city property

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The president of Jacksonville City Council on Monday asked several city departments conduct an inventory of all Confederate monuments, memorials and markers on public property with the intention of asking that they be removed.

"It is important to know the full landscape of such a task," President Anna Brosche said in a statement. "Upon completion of the inventory, I intend to propose legislation to move Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers from public property to museums and educational institutions where they can be respectfully preserved and historically contextualized."

Brosche said this is in response to the "horrific and unacceptable incidents" that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, and follows the actions of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and, most recently, the Florida Senate, who removed Confederate items from public places in Tallahassee.

She directed the Parks and Recreation Department and planning division's Historic Preservation Section to inventory of all Confederate monuments, memorials and markers on public property.

"Upon completion of the inventory, I intend to propose legislation to move Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers from public property to museums and educational institutions where they can be respectfully preserved and historically contextualized," Brosche said. "It is important to never forget the history of our great city; and, these monuments, memorials, and markers represent a time in our history that caused pain to so many."

Community efforts to have the Confederate soldier marker in Hemming Park removed, as well as similar statutes removed and Confederate Park renamed have been gathering momentum. 

“This hate, we have to confront it. If we don’t, it won't go away," Wells Todd said, a member of Take 'Em Down Jax, told News4Jax earlier this summer. 

After Saturday's deadly violence where a car was driven into a group of people protesting a white supremacist rally in defense of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee on Charlottesville property, Take 'Em Down Jax held an emergency rally that night outside the Jacksonville Landing.

Some other Florida cities have either removed Confederate markers or are in the process of doing so. Work removing "Old Joe" from outside the Alachua County Administration building in Gainesville began Sunday and continued Monday.

The statue is being returned to the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which erected it in 1904. The county said it did not know where the statue would go, the Gainesville Sun reported.

In June, the city of Orlando removed a statue depicts Johnny Reb -- a symbol of the Confederacy and its soldiers -- from Lake Eola Park. The statue was moved to Greenwood Cemetery, where it will be kept in a section dedicated to Confederate veterans.

In Tampa, a passer-by called 911 after seeing that paint had been tossed on and around the Confederate memorial's columns and derogatory comments were scrawled in paint, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said in a news release. The site is on private property near Tampa on Florida's west coast.

Hillsborough County commissioners voted on July 19 to remove a different monument in the county, this one in downtown Tampa and on county property, after several heated meetings filled with public discussion.

The 60-foot-tall granite column topped by a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier has been in Jacksonville's Hemming Plaza for nearly 120 years. It’s the site of a monument to Women of the Confederacy that was dedicated in 1915 and a historical marker placed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to commemorate the May 1914 national reunion of Confederate veterans that took place in Jacksonville.

In March, the Jacksonville City Council Neighborhoods Committee asked the full council to withdraw a bill to designate Hemming Park’s confederate monument as a historical landmark.

Others markers in parks and public areas around the city include a tribute to the women of the Confederacy in Confederate Park and the Gen. Joseph Finnegan grave monument in Jacksonville's Old City Cemetery.