A Confederate memorial in Jacksonville, Florida, was removed in the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to a report by Action News Jax. The monument was apparently removed at the order of city officials, though no official announcement was made ahead of time. The city's website now states that the statue was removed from its place "in June 2020."
Jacksonville's Hemming Park was previously home to a 62-foot tall monument depicting a Confederate infantryman standing at ease, facing south with his hand on his musket. It was reportedly removed well before sunrise on Tuesday by a work crew complete with a crane. The nameplate was taken away as well, leaving only an empty pedestal in its place. The removal came just hours ahead of a peaceful protest in the area, planned to begin at 10 a.m. outside of City Hall.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry joined the peaceful protest on Monday, which was led by Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette and rapper Lil Duval. While the march was expected to be nonviolent, many social media users assumed that the statue was removed ahead of time to prevent it from being destroyed. Activists have long sought to have all Confederate monuments removed from Jacksonville's public property, and recent protests around the world have resulted in the destruction of historical monuments.
The statue removed on Tuesday morning was donated to the city of Jacksonville in 1898 by Charles C. and Lucy Key Hemming, and was one of the few landmarks in the city to survive a catostrophic fire in 1901. It was one of three Confederate monuments in Hemming Park, and Curry vowed on Tuesday morning that the others would be removed soon as well, according to WOKV. They were a point of contention in the city even before the current spate of protests across the country.
JSO stationed all around Hemming Park where Confederate monument removed overnight. Peaceful protest set for 10 a.m. pic.twitter.com/kJ3cnwyDgR— Beth Rousseau (@BethANJax) June 9, 2020
"Our revisionist history would tell us that it’s there to honor men fighting for state’s rights, but true history would tell us that in the cornerstone addressed, Alexander Stevens said that our states are built on the fact that the negro is inferior and slavery and subordination is his normal and natural state. That’s true history," said Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley in another protest on Friday.
So far, Jacksonville has not revealed what is being done with the removed statues or if they will be displayed elsewhere. In the last few days, viral videos have shown protesters in the United Kingdom pulling down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and throwing it into the river. In London, a statue of Winston Churchill was also defaced.