Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson advised local Historic City News reporters that the agenda for Monday evening’s regular meeting of the City Commission “has been amended so as to allow time to receive input from the community regarding the future of a Confederate monument in the Plaza de la Constitutión”.
Reverend Ron Rawls, pastor of St Paul’s AME church, held his own meeting last Monday; instigating support for removal of the monument as well as a memorial obelisk constructed on property controlled by the Trustees of the Internal Improvements Trust Fund of the State of Florida. That monument honors General William W Loring who grew up in St Augustine and was a career military man. He served in the Confederate Army, and others, as far away as Egypt. His remains lie buried beneath the monument.
“Any decision regarding this monument will be handled in the same manner as any other matter in our city government by first receiving public input,” said John Regan, City Manager. “The city’s elected officials are the arbiters of public policy. By inviting public input, the Commission can first hear from the community before any decision is made.”
Included in his hour-long meeting, Rawls, who is a resident of Gainesville, made a three-word-demand on St Augustine’s mayor, vice-mayor, and city manager — “remove them now”. And at the close of Rawls’ meeting, after a number of those in attendance walked, saying they were not allowed to express their contrasting point of view, Rawls added an ultimatum to his demand.
He threatened to pack the next commission meeting with supporters who would keep commissioners, city staff, and citizens who have business before the commission, “until midnight” unless both the city and state monuments were removed beforehand.
Although it is not known what action, if any, will be taken by the commission, the threat of filibuster has not persuaded city officials to take any action prior to Monday night’s meeting.
Judging by two public petitions being circulated by the polling website change.org, one supporting the preservation of the monuments “as is” and the other supporting the removal of the monuments, the city appears to have tapped the brakes at the right moment.
As of Friday afternoon, only 781 supporters had signed the petition to remove the monuments “Take down St Augustine’s confederate statues”; whereas the petition to keep the monuments “Please don’t erase our history in St Augustine” had already been signed by 8,702 supporters.
If you are planning to attend, the meeting is at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 28th in the Alcazar Room located on the ground floor of City Hall, 75 King Street. The meeting will be available for viewing live on GTV/Comcast channel 3 and at www.CityStAugTV.com.
The meeting’s full agenda is available under the Government tab and clicking on City Commission at www.CityStAug.com The meeting will be available for on-demand viewing at www.CityStAugTV.com by mid-afternoon on the following day, Tuesday, August 29th.