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Lake County decides bringing in a Confederate statue is not a good idea after all

The Lake County Commission will ask the state of Florida to find some other museum -- not the local history museum -- for a statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smity. Photo: Architect of the Capitol

The Lake County Commission has changed its mind about welcoming the statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith at the county history museum in Tavares.

Commissioners agreed Tuesday that they’ll ask the state to find another place for the general when he’s replaced by Mary McLeod Bethune at the U.S. Capitol.

Commission Chair Leslie Campione, who voted last July in favor of the statue, suggested the state find a museum where the general is relevant to local history — or perhaps a Civil War museum.

Some residents have protested and many have told her the statue has no place in Lake County.

“I believe that this entire situation has created really unnecessary strife and division in our community,” Campione said. “And I know that it’s harmed my relationship with some of my friends in the black community and residents in the black community. And my prayer is that this harm isn’t irreparable.”

The decision drew immediate thank you’s from 10 county residents who had asked to speak at the meeting.

Mae Hazelton was one of them. America is at an inflection point, she said, and it’s painful.

“Change is gut-wrenchingly keep-you-up-at-night-praying painful. But thank you for understanding who Lake County is. But nothing is as painful as staying at a point where you know that’s not who we are.”

The actual vote on a letter and resolution asking the state to reopen the selection process is set for the next commission meeting.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.