Lakeland confederate monument dispute heading to federal court

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LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A federal court of appeals has agreed to hear arguments about the removal of a confederate monument from Munn Park last year.

Oral arguments in the appeal by “Save Southern Heritage” are set to begin April 20 in the dispute, which began after city officials voted to move the 109-year-old statue from its downtown location. The group hoped a federal judge would block the City of Lakeland from relocating the monument, but the judge dismissed the group’s lawsuit.

The move was one of many discussed in the last few years and even sparked state lawmakers to consider legislation during last year’s session.

Monuments in the Tampa Bay area

Monuments in the Tampa Bay area

Here’s a look at the locations of Confederate monuments in the Tampa Bay area. Tap the markers for more information.

The proposed “Soldiers’ and Heroes’ Monuments and Memorials Protection Act” intended to protect all “remembrances” built on public property on or after March 22, 1822. The bill died in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on May 3 of last year.

Nationally, there are nearly 2,000 estimated Confederate monuments, homes, parks, museums, libraries and cemeteries that cost American taxpayers nearly $40 million annually to maintain.

In recent years, the monuments have been central to a lively debate. One side is angry, saying that the monuments pay homage to leaders of Jim Crow-era politics. Others argue that the statues are a symbol of American history that should not be erased.

“My hope is that, given the context of Veterans Park, relocating the Confederate monument there will send a strong signal to Lakelanders, present and future,” Lakeland Commissioner Scott Franklin said at the time of the original vote. “We are simply honoring and remembering our war dead. Nothing more, nothing less.”

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