Lake County to inform governor that it no longer wants controversial Confederate statue

Measure approved during commission meeting

Lake County commissioners said Tuesday it is going to ask Gov. Ron DeSantis to find a new home for a statue of a Confederate general.

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Lake County commissioners decided Tuesday to make it official that they no longer want a controversial Confederate statue by penning a letter to the governor informing him of the decision.

The commission previously endorsed moving a statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith to the Lake County Historical Society from the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.

Then, in a surprise move in June, commissioners made the decision to reverse course and ask that leaders find a different home from the Confederate statue, which is being replaced in the U.S. Capitol by a statue of African American educator and civil rights advocate Mary McLeod Bethune.

On Tuesday, the move was made official with the approval of a proclamation and a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“The Board is unified in its support of the State ensuring that the Statue be displayed in a museum or similar indoor, secure facility, but the Board has determined that the Lake County Historical Courthouse, which houses the Lake County Historical Museum, is not an appropriate location for this particular artifact,” Lake County Board of County Commissioners Chair Leslie Campione wrote in the letter.

She cited three main reasons for not wanting the statue at the Lake County Historical Society: Smith did not have a connection to Lake County, the idea of acquiring the statue has created strife in the community and the role the Lake County Historical Courthouse played in the Groveland Four tragedy.

In 1949, four Black men were wrongfully convicted at the Lake County Historical Courthouse of sexually attacking a 17-year-old white girl. They have since been posthumously pardoned.

Now that the resolution has passed, the letter will be sent to DeSantis’ office so a new location for the statue can be determined.