While more Southern states are standing up and announcing support for making sweeping changes about the Confederate flag, controversy has made its way to Orlando, where a statue honoring Confederate soldiers stands in Lake Eola Park. Both senators in Mississippi have called to remove the emblem from its state flag, while Alabama’s governor ordered all Confederate flags to be taken down at the state Capitol. The governor of Virginia also wants vanity license plates depicting the flag to be replaced.
The local group Organize Now is pushing for the removal of the century-old Lake Eola statue, and they created a petition on their Facebook page for support.
On Monday, activist Lawanna Gelzer spoke out to get the Confederate statue moved from its prominent spot.
More than 140 people have signed Organize Now’s petition since it went live on Tuesday. They’re asking Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to move the statue from the park and work to get it placed in a museum. But there’s another petition with about the same number of signatures that is circulating to keep the statue described as a “shrine to virtue.”
One supporter of the statue wrote, “This is not a racist statue. It honors Florida soldiers who served in the Confederacy during the Civil War. It is history.” Another said, “Erasing the symbols of our past will not change it, only learning from it will.”
Organize Now leaders also believe the past has educational value, but they argue such a divisive past shouldn’t be on display in a public park. “It’s not a good part of history, it’s a dark part of history and it should be in a museum, not in a public place,” said Ahmed.
The mayor’s office released a statement saying they’re exploring options for the future of the statue, but there haven’t been any decisions made.