Group sues over plans to remove Confederate monument in Madison

The confederate monument at Four Freedoms park in Madison, FL
The confederate monument at Four Freedoms park in Madison, FL(WCTV)
Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 11:39 AM EDT
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MADISON, Fla. (WCTV) - Descendants of Confederate soldiers are suing the mayor of Madison over the city commission’s decision to remove a Confederate monument.

The statue has stood in Madison’s Four Freedoms Park since 1909, when it was dedicated by a chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

The city commission voted 3-2 in June to remove the 23-foot marble obelisk that pays tribute to fallen Confederate soldiers from Madison County.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans and a handful of residents are suing the mayor and the Florida Secretary of State, trying to block the removal.

The lawsuit, filed in August, disputes the removal on several fronts.

It questions whether the city alone owns the monument and has the authority to make the decision, claiming the park’s title may be vested in the county. The lawsuit also argues that Madison’s mayor, Rayne Cooks, lives outside the city and therefore is not qualified to sit on the city commission.

It alleges that the monument represents a tombstone and a historical resource, so removing it would be a violation of state laws. And the plaintiffs further argue that removal of the statue violates free speech and breaches the city’s contract with the group that originally placed the marker.

Local businessman Donelle Davis started pushing for removal of the monument in June.

Attorneys for the city of Madison have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the allegations have no standing.

Madison city manager Jerome Wyche has been researching how to move the monument safely without damaging it. Wyche says those plans are on hold because of the litigation.

Communities nationwide have been removing confederate monuments, in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and a re-energized Black Lives Matter movement.

On June 11, Gadsden County commissioners voted to remove the confederate monument outside the county courthouse. Within 30 minutes after the decision, a crane crew was brought in to dismantle the monument.

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