City staff recommends Confederate monument’s removal

“The Square and Monument are not equitable representations of all our citizens.” – Keith Wilkins

Pensacola City Administrator Keith Wilkins has sent a recommendation to Mayor Grover Robinson that called for City Council to approve the removal of the Lee Square Confederate Monument and to give the mayor the authorization to award a contract to implement Council’s approval.

“Under careful consideration and with Pensacola’s collective heritage and historic landscape in mind, staff has determined that Lee Square and the monument does not reflect our current values nor strive to create a more inclusive City,” wrote Wilkins.

“Although the Confederate monument remembers those that lead, fought and died for the Confederacy, it also promotes a post-Reconstruction “Lost Cause” narrative that memorializes a divisive time in American history reflective of “white supremacy” and the Jim Crow era. The Square and Monument are not equitable representations of all our citizens.”

Read Confederate Monument Staff Report Final

The City Council will consider the recommendation at its special meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14 at Pensacola City Hall. The council can accept, reject or amend the recommendation, and Mayor Robinson has the option of vetoing the decision.

 


Options for Removed Monument:

Relocation options and/or donation considerations for the Confederate monument or portions of the Confederate monument include:
a) Relocate the monument to City storage for the time being.

b) Donate the monument to a historic preservation organization, such as the UWF
Historic Trust.

c) If the panels are removed, the Perry panel might be donated to the First United
Methodist Church, owner of the Perry Home.

d) Relocation to St. John’s Cemetery. St. John’s Cemetery contains a number of
military internments including those that took part in the Civil War. If fact, Edward Perry whose name is inscribed on the monument’s west face is buried there. While St. John’s Cemetery may appear to be the most historically appropriate placement, careful consideration should be given as to any visual or social impacts to existing burials, statues, and monuments within St. John’s Cemetery as well as to the surrounding community and residents.

e) Partial relocation to Veterans Memorial Park Pensacola. Veterans Memorial Park may be an appropriate location for the Confederate soldier statue portion only. Relocation of the full monument to this park is not advised since the monument’s mass will overpower existing monuments and displays.

f) Relocation to St. Michael’s Cemetery. St. Michael’s Cemetery is a state park and contains several Pensacola’s colonial-period internments. Also, Stephen Mallory who is mentioned on the monument’s north panel is buried here. Since St. Michael’s Cemetery is a historical site unto itself, any out-of-context addition will likely damage the cemetery’s historical integrity.

g) Relocation to Barrancas National Cemetery.Civil War soldiers from both the North and the South are buried here and this may be a historically appropriate area. However, the cemetery is managed by the National Cemetery Administration and the monument will likely not be accepted due to its scale.

Estimated cost for removal: $119,175

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2 thoughts on “City staff recommends Confederate monument’s removal

  1. One option not yet discussed is to let the people who own Lee Square and the Confederate Monument and the cannons too (city residents) make the decision. It would not be hard on July 14 for the City Council to amend the proposed action to put the question to all city voters on the November 3 general election ballot.

    A low cost option not described in the memo is to transfer the monument to another municipality. Perhaps the City of Milton would want it. They seem a city of history lovers.
    The projected cost to remove and store the monument is listed as $119,175. The cost would be far less for Milton if Santa Rosa County businesses offered to do much of the work.

    Does the city’s Architectural Review Board have a role in this process? Mayor Robinson brought the park renaming issue to the Parks & Recreation Board. The City Code gives the Architectural Review Board significant authority with respect to historical districts to include the North Hill Preservation District where Lee Square is located and infers it has authority beyond the mere appearance of buildings to include – “…to preserve the historical integrity and ancient appearance within any and all historical districts established by the governing body of the city….”

  2. Lee Square: What to do with an insignificant spot of public land.

    During the coronavirus disruption, I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate a lot of things. One of them is the statute of a confederate soldier that has occupied Pensacola’s former Florida Square since 1891 and what we as one of the oldest cities in America should do about it.

    As do many, I have an opinion regarding the eventual fate of the statute and potential renaming of our park. An opinion, influenced by the fact that I am a product of the people who fought on the wrong side of a national uprising but more importantly an opinion derived from historical facts that paint a clear picture as to why the statute was erected and the park renamed some two decades after our Civil War was over.

    It was then and remains today an attempt to maintain and perpetuate white supremacy, to keep blacks and other non-whites in their place. To keep the confederate ‘cause’ alive.

    As states and municipalities move in the right direction and remove statutes and rename public places to remove glorification of the ‘cause’, our local leaders are seemingly treading water while they wait to see which end the pool will drain from first. Why is this a difficult decision for anyone? Doing what is right should not require that much political calculation.

    There should be a slap-in-the-face reality, when the state of Mississippi removes the confederate battle flag from it’s own state flag. A flag, that like our statute, is used to glorify the ‘cause’. The Civil War ended in 1865, the cause is finally, finally lost.

    Pensacola – don’t be the Southern city that doesn’t get it. My personal plea to the mayor and city council is simple. Don’t let my City, our CITY become a beacon of white supremacy by refusing to do what is right out of political expediency.

    Assuming we as a community do what is right and remove the statute, from a practicable standpoint, other than giving the spot a new name, there really isn’t a lot to do with Lee Square. It’s small footprint and dangerous access never will make it a destination for tourists or locals and the mature oaks and magnolias make the site inadequate for displaying anything at ground level that a city would want to showcase.

    In retrospect, it has been a great place to hide the tribute to the ‘cause’ all these years. Silently hidden in plain sight from most. But the people it was placed there to intimidate knew where it was. Their parents and grandparents knew as well.

    I like the American flag. Globally, it’s the most recognized symbol of any type, flag or otherwise. All be it just ahead of the Rolling Stones lips. It helps me remember that we are a country of many people, not just a few with a ‘cause’. Our flag is a symbol that survives our differences as citizens. It survives and inspires generations.

    I suggest Florida’s First & Future City put up the largest American flag in the country on a pole that towers above the trees that largely hid it’s predecessor. An American flag so big and prominent that it can be seen from Interstate 110 to the new General Daniel ‘Chappie’ James Bridge. A great big Red, White and Blue American flag dominating the Pensacola skyline from the highest point, showcasing a city that did the right thing for the right reason. A city that buried the cause with the dead who created it.

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