LAKE MARY, Fla. - Tavares police asked several people who were holding signs that said, "No confederate monument,” to leave a meeting. Protesters say the signs were a part of a silent protest.
Interfaith Council of Lake County Founder Reverend Sandy Haxton was among those asked to leave.
“We don’t need [the statue],” Haxton said. “We don’t need racial division. We don’t need that sort of thing in Lake County. We need to move forward."
The meeting was to honor the artist creating the statue of Mary McLeod Bethune, civil rights pioneer and educator, to be placed in Washington, D.C. It will replace a statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith.
“People there asked that they quiet down,” Tavares Police Sgt. Sarah Coursey said. “When they didn’t and the lady refused, officers were called. [They] just asked her to please step outside. They ended up having to remove her. There was no arrests, no charges. They just asked that they let the speaker have the time.”
Lake County Historical Museum Director Bob Grenier declined a request for an interview, but FOX 35 News did talk to Lake County’s Property Appraiser Carey Baker, who is also a member of the historical society.
He said a bill passed in the legislature in 2018 requires the statue of the general be brought back to Florida for public display if it's replaced in D.C. He also said there is now a plan to place a statue of Dr. Bethune in the museum, too.
“We’re following state law,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of good that’s going to come from this. There is no celebrating the confederacy.”
The statue is expected to come to Lake County before the end of the year.