Downtown Orlando statue stirs debate on Confederate controversy

Nestled in the heart of Downtown Orlando, just a few feet from Eola Avenue, you'll find a statue standing tall. If you go to the statue, look closely, it is a statue dedicated to something you may not be aware of.

Kenny Smith, of Orlando, walked past the statue and said, "I ain't never looked at enough to know what it was."

Built in 1911 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy of Orlando, words etched on the statue say it honors the memory of the soldiers of the Confederate States of America.

Auston Henderson, of Orlando, said "I think it's a good thing. I mean, everyone else gets to do their memorials, why doesn't the Confederate?"

Not everyone agrees. Lawanna Gelzer is president of the Central Florida Chapter of the National Action Network.

"This statue really does not belong here anymore," she said. "If it's gonna stay, then you need to put something up of other individuals who contribute to the community and what they've done. Put Doctor King up."

In the wake of the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, the Confederate flag is part of the national conversation.

Gelzer said, "For those who say it's about history, it's about a dark part of our history. We just need to understand what it represents."

The Confederate flag and the Confederate statue are fostering mixed emotions here at home in Central Florida.

Dustin Logan, of Orlando, said, "My thoughts on the Confederate flag is like everything else. The past is the past."

Lisa Tully, of Orlando, said, "I think for me, personally, it's more of a reminder of a very ugly time in history. And, it still seems very inflammatory to me."

Cassandra Lafser, a public information officer for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, sent a statement to Fox 35 saying:

"There is no on-going maintenance the City does or funds for the statue. We pride ourselves in being a diverse and inclusive community and value the concerns raised by a citizen regarding the statue that has been in Lake Eola for nearly 100 years. We are open to exploring options for the future of this statue."
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