Story at a glance
- The city commission in St. Augustine last week voted 3-2 to remove the monument.
- A lawsuit filed Sunday is accusing the city’s mayor of persuading the city commission to avoid a review by the Historic Architectural Review Board before voting to remove the monument.
- The lawsuit calls for a feasibility study from the Historical Architectural Review Board before the city moves forward with removal.
Nearly 40 descendants of soldiers listed on the Confederate Memorial Obelisk in St. Augustine, Fla., are suing the city to stop the removal of the 30-foot tall monument without first undergoing the legally required review process to “prevent its damage or destruction.”
The city commission in St. Augustine last week voted 3-2 in favor of removing and relocating the Confederate Memorial from the Plaza de la Constitucion. The monument lists the names of Confederate soldiers killed in the Civil War and has stood in the plaza since 1879.
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The move comes as the nation faces a racial reckoning following the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. Floyd’s death sparked national protests, including the removal of several Confederate monuments by protesters and local governments.
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But now the city is getting some pushback.
A lawsuit filed Sunday by Jill M. Pacetti and 37 other descendants of the memorialized Confederate soldiers is accusing St. Augustine Mayor Tracy Upchurch of persuading the city commission to avoid a review by the Historic Architectural Review Board before voting to remove the monument, Jacksonville.com reports.
“The Monument is a 30-foot tall obelisk with the inscription ‘Our Dead. In Memoriam, our Loved Ones Who gave up Their Lives in the service of The Confederate States.’ The Monument is a form of expressive speech with a message related to the War Between the States and does not include Confederate markings, The expressive speech, and message projected by the Monument is generally understood to be from the mothers, sisters and widows of the war dead,” the lawsuit states.
“The petitioners are the lineal descendants of these mothers, sisters and widows and would suffer irreparable harm should the memorial of their relatives be damaged or destroyed.”
The plaintiffs claim the monument differs from those constructed during the Jim Crow era as it is intended to present a message of loss and sorrow from the war, rather than to vindicate it.
The lawsuit calls for a feasibility study from the Historical Architectural Review Board before the city moves forward with removal.
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