Lawmaker urges placing smith statue at battlefield

Amid a controversy about moving a statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith to Lake County, a Florida lawmaker has urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to place the statue at the Olustee Civil War battlefield in rural North Florida.

Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, was one among about 400 people who attended a march to protest the statue being brought to the Lake County Historical Society and Museum. After participating in the march, she sent a letter to the governor, asking that the statue be located in the historic battlefield in the Osceola National Forest.

The Lake County Commission last month supported relocating the statue of Smith from National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. to the county facility in Tavares. Smith’s statue has represented Florida for nearly a century at the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, but state lawmakers have decided to replace it with a statue of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune. 

“For historical reasons, I think it should be kept, but maybe in the proper place,” said Craig Mock, of Tavares.

FOX 35 spoke to people in Tavares where the museum is located. Many think moving the statue out of Lake County is a good idea.

“I don’t think they really should,” said Trevail Smith. “If they really want to keep the peace. If they really just want to keep things quiet, the way it usually normally is, they should take it somewhere else where you have to find it to know about it.”

They tell us they agree with the representative that the statue should be brought to a battlefield.

In her letter, Rep. Thompson said that there was only one battle during the civil war fought in Florida, which took place in 1864, and it was at the Olustee Battlefield in Baker County. Reenactments of the battle there are done annually.

“I think that is where it should be, considering the war wasn’t fought inside the town itself,” Smith said.

FOX 35 did reach out to the director of the museum about Rep. Thompson’s letter to the governor. He said that the statue will still be coming to the Lake County museum.

 

Some information provided by The News Service of Florida.