OCALA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The Confederate soldier statue stands tall at the Ocala-Marion County Veteran’s Memorial Park – dedicated in 1908 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
“If it offends people, I feel bad that it offends them, am I offended? Of course. I have to live here,” said John Frazier of Ocala.
As racial tensions escalate across the nation, the Marion County NAACP is now calling on the removal of all confederate symbols from government owned property in Marion County.
In a statement sent to FOX 35 NAACP Marion County chapter President Brendien Mitchell, Sr. said, in part, “The NAACP remains steadfast in our efforts to remove all symbols of the Confederacy from public grounds in Marion County. We believe that now is a time of courage for all people to embrace and commemorate symbols that unify, not divide.”
“Racism should be condemned, white supremacy or any supremacy should not be tolerated but the truth is we should be able to have a civil discord no matter what side you’re on about history and I think that’s what our community’s had in the past and what we’ll continue to have if they’d like to have a conversation with us we’d be more than happy to have that conversation,” said county commission chairman Carl Zalak.
Zalak says the only confederate symbols that they’re aware of in the county are the Confederate statue and the 1st Confederate flag as part of the Flags of Florida display next their museum.
”These things are in historic places so that we can learn from our mistakes , but we need to have discord that keeps hate and violence out these things because it has no place in our town and in our culture,” Zalak said.
County officials say they have yet receive any formal request from the NAACP. Residents like Frazier say what ever decision is ultimately made, he just hopes the community can work together to do what’s fair for everyone.
“There’s a right way and wrong way let the right people take action,” Frazier said.
If the Confederate symbols were to be removed, it would first have to be taken up by the Historic Commission who would then have to make a recommendation to the county commission.