Jacksonville councilman proposes outside help to steer monument talks

Jacksonville councilman proposes outside help to steer monument talks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The future of Jacksonville’s confederate monuments will again be a topic discussed at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

Councilman Aaron Bowman plans to update the council on a plan to work with a team from the University of Virginia’s Institute for Engagement and Negotiation.

The goal is to make sure everyone gets their voices heard so that the city can move forward with as much unity as possible.

“The Institute for Engagement & Negotiation is a change-agent with the skills, experience and vision for transforming chaos into order, for helping people navigate daunting challenges toward collaborative solutions,” the University’s website said. “We work as facilitators and mediators to help communities, agencies, nonprofits and businesses make sustainable decisions through collaborative approaches, in order to sustain communities ecologically, socially and economically.”


After nationwide outrage over the death of George Floyd in 2020, many U.S. cities, including Jacksonville, took steps to scrub Confederate symbols from public places including removing a confederate soldier statue downtown, renaming 6 confederate-named schools, and renaming “Confederate Park” to “Springfield Park.”

Still, the Women of the Confederacy monument remains and councilman Aaron Bowman said he wants to make sure any decision the city makes involves as many voices as possible.

“I think the risk of not having the opportunity to be heard and not understanding why someone feels that way is that’s going to be an open wound that never heals if we just make an arbitrary decision either to do something or not to do something,” Bowman said.

Bowman said he doesn’t have a position on whether the monument should stay or go but said, whichever happens, the city has to be decisive.


“I can appreciate both sides of the argument, but I also understand how important it is to some people,” Bowman said. “That’s why it’s important to me that, I think doing nothing and putting our heads in the sand is wrong.”

Bowman said the Jesse Ball duPont Fund offered to fund the researchers from the University of Virginia.

A proposal brought by councilman Al Ferraro is being considered that would leave the fate of historical monuments up to a city referendum, but that measure is still being considered by committees.

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