Federal lawsuit against city updated

The descendant of a black confederate soldier has filed a lawsuit in federal court naming the City of St Augustine as a defendant. In his third amended filing, an additional plaintiff and additional details have been added to his complaint.

The Federal Lawsuit against the City of St. Augustine over the removal of their historic Plaza de la Constitution Confederate Memorial advanced last week as an amended complaint was filed by the attorney in the case, David McCallister.

The amended lawsuit added a plaintiff, James Parham, and new causes of action.

“The case against the City of St. Augustine is one of the most egregious cases we have seen,” said attorney McCallister. “The case had been put on hold by the Court pending the results of two other Florida monument lawsuits. Based on recent actions, we can now proceed.”

The 1870’s era memorial, made by hand on-site from native coquina for the Ladies Memorial Association of St Augustine, listed the names of 46 St. Augustine area men who died in defense of the City and many whose final resting places are unknown.

The monument was removed from the National Register Historic District in 2020 after an out-of-town agitator, Rev Ron Rawls, former pastor of St Paul’s AME Church, threatened to “burn the town down” if the monument was not taken down.

Despite the fact that the full body of the St Augustine City Commission had previously voted, unanimously, to preserve the authentic artifact, City Manager John P Regan persuaded a recently appointed mayor (Upchurch) and two elected commissioners (Freeman and Sikes-Kline) to recant their original vote. The commission authorized the city manager to proceed with the removal of the memorial on a 3-to-2 split vote (Horvath and Valdes remained true to their original votes).

The amended complaint charges the city with not meeting Federal review requirements for Historic Resources benefiting from Federal funding. The City is expected to move for dismissal of the case, and the assigned judge, Obama appointee Brian Davis, will make the decision.

“If the case is dismissed, we will be appealing to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta for justice,” McCallister concluded. ”If you can’t have a historic monument in a National Register Historic District in the nation’s oldest city, there’s something very wrong in America.”