The fate of a controversial confederate statue in downtown Gainesville may be determined today.
Alachua County commissioners will discuss what to do with the statue of an unknown Confederate soldier during a County Commission meeting, which will begin at 5 p.m. in the Alachua County Administration building. The statue sparked controversy in recent months, notably in July when protestors confronted each other in a clash of beliefs and ideology.
Some have suggested relocating the statue, possibly to the Matheson History Museum. Others believe it should remain where it stands.
"It’s a living monument to white supremacy," said Jesse Arost, a UF alumnus who graduated in 2008 with bachelor’s degrees in English and Russian. "It’s a living monument to everything the confederacy fought for."
"I think we live in a white society where white people are privileged and a certain group of white people don’t want to acknowledge that fact because acknowledging it… requires action on their part," the 29-year-old activist said.
Steven Ingram, the public affairs officer for the Florida League of the South, said he worries about the removal of Confederate monuments, calling it "Southern cultural genocide."
"Those symbols… represent us as a people," Ingram said. "For us, Southerners are the descendants of white Europeans who have been rooted here for centuries."
Matheson History Museum executive director Peggy Macdonald said, to her knowledge, there has been no survey done to determine how much it would cost to move the statue to the museum.
And even if commissioners vote to relocate the statue to the museum, Macdonald said, the museum’s board of directors would have to approve it.
Alachua County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson is against relocating the statue, saying instead it should remain as a reminder of the lives lost during the Civil War.
"It’s a statue honoring the dead," he said. "Obviously I’m not against that. I think that’s how it should be viewed."
A protestor holds up a sign reading “Black Lives Matter,” in front of the statue memorializing fallen Confederate soldiers from the Civil War on July 9, 2015. Today’s Alachua County Commissioners meeting may conclude the debate over whether to remove the statue.