Recent efforts to influence the direct support organization of the University of Florida to remove the grave marker of General William Wing Loring from the grounds of Loring Park, have hit a brick wall — or, should we say, a granite one.
Confounded by the fact that UF Historic St Augustine, Inc. does not own the real property that is the bone of contention in out-of-town efforts to remove the memorial; as well as Section §872.02(2) F. S. which states, “A person who willfully and knowingly excavates, exposes, moves, removes, or otherwise disturbs the contents of a grave or tomb commits a felony of the second-degree”, the direct support organization has picked up a new obstacle to overcome.
The Loring family, descendents of the prolific General whose cremated remains are buried beneath the obelisk monument, were understandably upset when a quietly-noticed special meeting of the Board of Directors was called on March 16th to address one item of business, only — to hear arguments from five invited guest speakers supporting removal of the memorial from the public space.
One of the relatives stated that they intend to fight, in court if necessary, to prevent anyone from molesting their ancestor’s final resting place.
John Shannon Bianchi, of Boston, Massachusetts, whose mother is Carol Loring, was in communication with Historic City News readers Jill Pacetti in St Augustine this morning to express his concern over the threats being advanced by Ronald Rawls Jr of Gainesville.
“I meant every word I said,” Bianchi told Pacetti. “We are assembling a team of lawyers to fight this. I will follow the meetings and watch for your posts, if absolutely necessary, I may be able to come to Florida.”
He wrote the following letter to the DSO today and agreed for it to be published:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
I am a direct descendent of General William Wing Loring; I am the son of Carol Loring, grandson of Harold Loring, great grandson of Amasa Loring.
My wife is African American. I am Caucasian. We were married at the base of the Robert E Lee monument in Stone Mountain, Georgia; in the face of racism. It was a sight to see. 100 black folks and 100 white folks all gathered together to celebrate love, not political justice. We live in Boston. My wife is a staunch Democrat, and I am a proud Republican. We are proof that love is stronger than politics and race. You’ve probably never met anyone like us before, and here’s the shocker, we’ve been raised that way by our Southern families.
We hereby wholeheartedly and totally reject the removal or destruction of the General William Wing Loring Monument in St. Augustine.
and do declare:
- The Loring family has never supported racism.
- William Wing Loring was not a racist.
- We reject the removal or destruction of confederate monuments; they are important reminders of a time long ago, and remind us all of how far we’ve come.
- We are a proud family of theologians, public servants, first responders, doctors, professors, scholars, lawyers, and military service members.
- Any attacks on the Loring family lineage or heritage is an attack on our family as a whole, including our African American brothers and sisters in Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.
- Any attempt to remove or destroy General Loring’s monument will be considered an attack on our family, and we will retaliate.
- We fight injustice and racism through our love, not through politicized movements.
- We demand the immediate and permanent end to any and all plans, discussions, talks, gatherings, meetings, or protests against General Loring, and our honorable family.
- General Loring’s monument is his gravestone. If you so much as remove a single blade of grass from the area, we will use every last resource we have against you, and we will win.
- Your efforts for social justice are misplaced. Your anger is misplaced. We Lorings suggest you focus on loving one another and building your own family’s strength before attacking someone else’s.
- Cease and desist immediately or we will see to it that you are sued and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
This is the only letter we will send. We are not open to discussion.
John S. Bianchi
(son of Carol Loring, and descendent of William Wing Loring)
The UF Historic St Augustine Board of Directors will take up discussion of their plans for the monument at their next meeting on April 13, 2018.