PALATKA, Fla. – On Tuesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center raised a billboard in support of the Putnam Alliance For Equity and Justice, which has been advocating for the removal of a Confederate monument from the entrance to the Putnam County Courthouse since 2020.
The following statement is from the SPLC Chief of Staff and Culture Lecia Brooks:
“For nearly a century, the inscription on the Confederate statue that sits in front of the Putnam County Courthouse reminds passersby that ‘The Principles For Which They Fought Will Live Eternally.’ These words speak volumes about the mindset of its erectors, who supported men that fought and died to preserve the system of chattel slavery. This hateful relic, which is not dedicated to anyone, illustrates Palatka’s oppressive past but must not represent its inclusive present and future.
“In August 2020, the Putnam County Board of Commissioners did the right thing by voting to remove this symbol of white supremacy from the entrance to the courthouse. However, their decision included demands clearly designed to hinder this removal.
“The vote required private citizens, including the Putnam Alliance For Equity and Justice (PAEJ), to raise $200,000 within three months of the Commissioners’ decision. Advocates were barred from being able to accept funds from out-of-county organizations willing to help pay for its removal. The Commissioners also refused to specify a location where the statue could be moved, making it impossible for vendors to offer a quote.
“Symbols of hate and racial oppression do not belong in public spaces, and certainly not in or around courthouses where justice is supposed to be blind. The psychological effects of this imagery on pedestrians, as well as judges and jurors, are real and have been documented by research.
“The terms imposed by the Putnam County Commissioners ensured that the statue’s removal would fail. Despite this setback, the PAEJ along with concerned members of the Palatka community have continued to hold their elected officials accountable for almost three years.
“Citizens rely on elected officials to heed the will of their constituents, not find ways to circumvent their wishes. The Southern Poverty Law Center stands with the PAEJ and Palatka community members in calling for the immediate removal of the Confederate monument, along with the striking of the Putnam County Commission’s onerous restrictions that subvert the will of the people.”
- The SPLC billboard is located at US 17 ES 0.1mi S/O SR 100 F/N - 1. You may also find the location on Google Maps using these coordinates: 29.604971,-81.585164.
- According to the SPLC's Whose Heritage? report, there are currently 76 live Confederate memorials scattered across the state of Florida. Fourteen are schools named after Confederate generals, 16 are roadways, and 19 are monuments.
- Seven Confederate symbols were removed from Florida’s public spaces in 2021, ranking third in the US for removals.