The process of moving the 106-year-old statue is expected to take six weeks
The statue's removal is the latest development in a national debate over Confederate memorials
The city of Orlando began Tuesday the process of removing a Confederate statue from its place in Lake Eola Park. The statue, which depicts Johnny Reb – a symbol of the Confederacy and its soldiers – is being moved to Greenwood Cemetery, where it will be kept in a section dedicated to Confederate veterans.
Officials estimate the process will take six weeks to complete, according to a press release from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s office. They must carefully remove the 106-year-old statue, build a new base in the cemetery and reassemble the statue, the statement said.
This won’t be the statue’s first move. It’s been in Lake Eola Park since 1917, when it was moved from its original location on a nearby street.
Cassandra Lafser, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, told CNN the statue was a gift from the Daughters of the Confederacy, given to the city in 1911.
Dyer announced the move in May, at a time when Southern cities are reevaluating Confederate memorials and their placement in public spaces. Some, like New Orleans, have decided to remove the statues completely.
The debate over confederate memorials boiled over that month when protesters clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia, over that city’s plans to take down a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Around the same time, Alabama passed a law barring the removal, renaming and alteration of such monuments.
Dyer has previously said he doesn’t believe the statue should be permanently removed. He views the monuments “as historical markers dedicated to men who died during a war,” according to a May press release announcing his decision to move the statue.
But Dyer recognized that some see the statue as a painful reminder of white supremacy and slavery.
Citing the city’s “commitment to inclusiveness,” Dyer put forth a plan to have historians install an informational panel to accompany the statue and provide historical context about the Civil War.
“I believe this proposal balances the inclusive morals of our community today,” he said, “while carefully preserving historic artifacts from our past that can be used to further educate and serve as important lessons in today’s society.”