LAKELAND (FOX 13) - Lakeland’s city commission voted unanimously on Monday to move the statue of a Confederate soldier in Munn Park to Veterans Memorial Park, which is adjacent to the RP Funding Center.
The city plans to pay for the move – expected to cost $250,000 – with donations.
Veterans Memorial Park is built on land where Moorehead, an African American community, once stood.
“It’s like pouring salt on an open wound,” commented Ken Glover, past president of the NAACP. “It hurts to have them made that decision, but it’s been made and now we have to move on.”
Instead, Glover and others wanted the statue moved to Roselawn Cemetery, where several Confederate soldiers are buried.
The statue has been a hot potato for months. One contingent, including Commissioner Michael Dunn, wanted to leave the statue right where it is.
In December, the commission decided it had to be moved. Others were vehement that it had to be moved.
“It’s kind of like a sore festering in the sun,” said Wallace Frazier. “The more it festers, the more it smells.”
The new location was not the only controversy. Commissioner Phillip Walker wanted the city to pay for the move because he wanted it moved immediately.
“If we wait for the money to be raised, this will continue to fester and our citizens will have more frustration and that’s what we don’t want,” he said.
However, commissioners decided that public money will not be spent on the project.
Former city attorney Joe Mawhinney, who was at the meeting made the first donation, $500.
“It is not so significant that it will not leave plenty of room for others to participate in the cost,” Mawhinney said.