Polk County Commission holds surprise vote to move Confederate marker to Bartow
BARTOW, Fla .– Located in plain sight on the grounds of the Old Polk County Courthouse in Bartow, is a Confederate Memorial.
Maggie Macaulay was at the unveiling ceremony almost 40 years ago with her grandmother.
“We asked her to reveal it and she did. I was there when she pulled the cord to remove the fabric from the monument, ”Macaulay said.
Although his great-grandfather is one of the soldiers recognized on the Confederate marker, the current New Mexico resident and others have asked the Polk County Historical Commission to move the memorial.
“Confederation was about slavery. There is no question that it was slavery and it has always been against my internal justice system, ”Macaulay said.
At the time, the Polk County Historical Commission agreed to leave the monument in place, cover the Confederate flag at the top, and build another memorial next to it that commemorates black history.
But in a sudden vote on Tuesday, the Polk County commission voted to move him to Oak Hill Cemetery in Bartow. It was not on the agenda.
Most commissioners expressed concern about the cost of a new monument to taxpayers.
“It’s going to cost money to do this, and you know it very well, it could lead to other requests for other markers or monuments on the courthouse lawn,” said Neil Combee, commissioner of the courthouse. Polk County for District 5.
While Macaulay supports moving the marker to the cemetery, she and Terry Coney, the president of the Lakeland Chapter of the NAACP, said there should have been more discussion.
“I was surprised. I’m not against them moving it, but under Florida Sunshine law and municipal law, they normally give the public an opportunity to express their opinion,” Coney said.
The town of Bartow, owner of the cemetery, will need to approve the move.