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PHOTO ESSAY | ‘Take them down!’

Published on December 14, 2022 at 12:08 am

Activists with the Northside Coalition and other civil rights groups implored the Jacksonville City Council Tuesday to remove the Confederate monument in Springfield Park, while a faction of speakers asked the Council to keep them up. 

Dozens of people protest the Confederate monuments that remain on city-owned property ahead of a Jacksonville City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. | Will Brown, Jacksonville Today

Before the meeting, protests began in James Weldon Johnson Park when an organist played a few moments before 4 p.m. and Northside Coalition founder Ben Frazier made clear his mission – the removal of the statue.

“If they wanted to do it tonight, they have the power to do it,” said Frazier.

Northside Coalition founder Ben Frazier was among the dozens of people protesting the Confederate monuments that remain on city-owned property ahead of the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. | Will Brown, Jacksonville Today

Instead, Frazier was arrested Tuesday, charged with trespassing with warning and resisting arrest following his remarks before the City Council. When he was handcuffed, Frazier was still wearing a hospital ID bracelet from a cancer treatment earlier in the day.

Council President Terrance Freeman said there would be “no tolerance of outburst or disruptions” and limited public comment to 65 seconds instead of the typical 150 seconds.

John Phillips, a local attorney who represents Frazier, told Jacksonville Today after his arrest: “This isn’t a minute-long issue …Clearly, we have issues with who gets persecuted and prosecuted for speech and who doesn’t.

Speakers in favor of keeping Confederate monuments in public spaces included a man dressed as Santa Claus.

Mayor Lenny Curry put funding in his budget for removing the monument, which the city Council approved but has not acted to use. 

Before his arrest, Ben Frazier addresses the City Council, imploring them to remove monuments devoted to the Confederacy in Jacksonville. | Will Brown, Jacksonville Today

“They have decided to ignore the issue, Each member should take a position,” Curry Tweeted on Tuesday night. “Yes or No on monument removal. Take a vote. Do your job on tough issues.”


author image Reporter, Jacksonville Today Will Brown is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. He previously reported for the Jacksonville Business Journal. And before that, he spent more than a decade as a sports reporter at The St. Augustine Record, Victoria (Texas) Advocate and the Tallahassee Democrat. Reach him at will@jaxtoday.org.
author image Reporter, Jacksonville Today Will Brown is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. He previously reported for the Jacksonville Business Journal. And before that, he spent more than a decade as a sports reporter at The St. Augustine Record, Victoria (Texas) Advocate and the Tallahassee Democrat. Reach him at will@jaxtoday.org.