Confederate Monument stirs debate in Lakeland

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Over 100 years ago, in a tree-lined park, a monument was erected to preserve the memory of those who fought for the Confederacy.

A century later, a new battle has emerged: Whether it’s appropriate to keep it.

In December 2017, the Lakeland City Commission voted to remove the monument from the center of Munn Park, due to its inability to remain an inclusive symbol. But one of the rally speakers says, the statue belongs to the people, not the commissioners.

“The people showed up today, hundreds of people, which greatly outnumbers the number or people sitting on a city council, or a mayor or city commission,” McCalister said.

Lakeland resident Keith Williams says its been made to be offensive because of the rebel flag and the way its used.

"I have family who were Confederate veterans and it was normal growing up and seeing the flag and wearing the shirts that had the flag," Williams said. "But in the big picture, in the grand scheme of things, It does more harm than good. "

Right now, two relocation sites have been identified: Veterans Memorial Park or Roselawn Cemetery, something McCalister says, would be a grave mistake. 

“If we lose this representation of the past, then we lose the meaning, and the understanding of the mistakes, and we’ll be doomed to repeat them again.”

City commissioners will vote on where to move it May 7th.