While Gainesville quietly removed one downtown Confederate monument in August, UF hasn’t evicted one that stands on a property they manage in St. Augustine.
Rev. Ron Rawls, the pastor of St. Paul AME Church in St. Augustine, is calling for the removal of two Confederate obelisks located in the Plaza de la Constitucion.
“When people are honest about Confederacy and what those symbols mean, I think it’s inappropriate to revere those symbols in public spaces,” Rawls said.
One lies on city property, while the other is on property managed by UF, said UF spokesperson Janine Sikes. The obelisk on UF’s property was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1920 in remembrance of Confederate Gen. William Wing Loring.
Sikes said the decision to remove this monument is complicated because there are remains under it.
UF’s Historic St. Augustine Board will be creating a committee to discuss what to do — if anything — with the monument. Sikes said she doesn’t know when a decision will be reached.
Rawls was disappointed with the lack of response from UF. He said after reaching out to UF multiple times, the university never responded to him. As a UF alumnus, Rawls feels it reflected negatively on UF President Kent Fuchs.
“It diminishes my respect for him as it relates to racial matters,” Rawls said.
Now, Rawls has planned a “Let’s Go Treading” march for the removal of the monuments from St. Paul AME Church to the Plaza de la Constitucion at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Reagan Zutell, a UF biology sophomore, said she isn’t offended by the monument because it represents a way of life that was normal for people at one time. The 20-year-old is against erecting new Confederate memorials but thinks it’s unnecessary to remove existing ones.
“Taking down old statues is kind of like, ‘Shouldn’t we just move on from it?’” she said.