Home / Government and politics / Residents: History Should Inform Confederate Statue Decision

Residents: History Should Inform Confederate Statue Decision

By

In light of the controversy surrounding a Confederate soldier statue in downtown Gainesville, some residents feel history should be taken into account when deciding its fate.

Supporters of the statue remaining in downtown insist it should remain in place because of the Civil War history in Gainesville. On Aug. 17, 1864, the Battle of Gainesville was fought. It was declared a Confederate victory.

Now, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners will decide whether to move the statue. There is currently no set time to discuss the issue.

A protester adds his sign to the many others propped against the downtown statue of the Confederate soldier during Thursday night's rally. Those who want to keep the statue in its original downtown location brought Confederate flags, some dressing in period-appropriate clothing.
A protester adds his sign to the many others propped against the downtown statue of the Confederate soldier during a rally. Those who want to keep the statue in its original downtown location brought Confederate flags, some dressing in period-appropriate clothing. Samantha Schuyler / WUFT

Lunelle Siegel, 53, a Tampa resident traveled to Gainesville last week to speak before the commissioners. Her family has deep roots in the city, and she wants the statue to remain in its current place

Siegel said the battle was important because it involved local residents.

“Some extremists want to erase Florida history,” she said.

She hopes Gainesville’s Civil War history is taken into account when commissioners’ make their decision.

Last week, the statue was vandalized after someone spray-painted over the plaque reading, “In Memory of the Confederate Dead. 1861-1865.” Siegel thinks whoever committed the act is criminal.

It’s an inanimate object that isn’t hurting anybody, she said.

Jesse Arost, a Gainesville resident in favor of relocating the statue, agreed its history should be considered.

Arost, 29, said in recent weeks he had learned more about the area’s history from historians at the Matheson Museum. He also learned battle took place just down the road from its current home.

He believes the statue belongs at the Matheson in order to contextualize it

Arost said he thinks the controversy has more to do with political ideals than history, but maintains his position that the statue represents, and remembers, slavery.

In the weeks before the next public meeting, Arost hopes to speak with each county commissioner.

Peggy Macdonald, executive director of the Matheson, said she thinks the history should be taken into account.

The statue was erected as a remembrance of Confederate debt, Macdonald said. She added that in order to contextualize it, additional signs explaining the violent past should be put up to inform the public.

Macdonald said putting up a statue of an African-American Union soldier next to the Confederate statue would fully pay tribute to the battle.

“I think you should consider the history of anything before making a decision,” she said.

Tell Us What You Think

Should the Confederate soldier statue should be relocated?

Yes
No

Quiz Maker

About Elizabeth Brown

Elizabeth is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

Check Also

US Appeals Court Denies Request For Reconsideration Of Amendment 4 Ruling

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday denied a request from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office to …

One comment

  1. Jesse Arost is part of the UF Radical Student Alliance whos goal is to radically reshape society. Social justice warriors who feel the need to erase our state history. Don’t let them fool you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *