Confederate war memorials might be coming down, but they won’t be transferred en masse to Eustis, Florida, despite what one city commissioner promised on Thursday. Now some members of the public are calling for an official statement on the matter, and others are calling for this particular commissioner to be publicly corrected.
A statue of General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, reignited the long-running controversy over such memorials of the Civil War this weekend. White nationalists, self-proclaimed neo-Nazis, and others met to protest the removal of the statue. The protest turned violent, ending with one counter-protester dead and others injured, after James Fields Jr. allegedly drove a vehicle into a crowd, hitting many other people.
In response, the call to remove monuments dedicated to Confederate generals and the Confederate cause has increased. In Baltimore, the Washington Post reports, four were removed quietly and without fanfare from the city over Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. In Charlottesville, ABC News reports, Mayor Mike Signer says that the meaning of these war memorials has been forever changed by the weekend’s violence, and it should be removed.
In Eustis, Florida, however, City Commissioner Anthony Sabatini has spoken out, saying that any Confederate war memorials removed elsewhere in the nation can be erected there, and that his city will be proud to have them. He declared this from a Facebook page with an official appearance, labeled with his official position, rather than a personal page.
There was a lot of feedback, such as from one Facebook user, Terrence Dave, who commented to say,
“Confederates fought and killed US soldiers..you honor that? #USveteran”
Another commenter, Tanisha Nichole, said
“It’s a sensitive time right now…and this post is like a slap in the face…it’s just creating a divide in the city between races.”
But when another constituent, Laura Williams, spoke to ask Sabatini if this had been cleared with the city, he assured her that the Confederate war memorials were being welcomed:
“The citizens of Eustis have spoken loudly on this issue.”
Many people also commented to support Commissioner Sabatini in bringing the Confederate memorials to Eustis. The commissioner stopped short of threatening to remove all dissenting posts, but did warn that any deemed to contain “manufactured outrage” would be removed.
However, the most prominent expression of dissent for moving Confederate memorials to Eustis didn’t appear on Sabatini’s page; instead, it appeared on the official page for the city, and announced that Commissioner Sabatini was expressing his own opinion, and that despite its appearance, bearing his title, his page was a personal rather than an official one.
Here too, controversy continued, with commenters expressing that they found Sabatini’s invitation for Confederate war memorials offensive, and his attempt to speak for the city inappropriate. A few even called for a formal rebuke. Others, however, expressed appreciation, saying they support the statues and had been pleased with the statement.
Commissioner Sabatini has, at this time, made no response to the city’s assurance that they are not accepting mass donations of Confederate war memorials.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]