Pensacola city council president Brian Spencer will seek a special city council meeting to discuss the possible removal of the city’s Confederate monument in Lee Square.
Spencer will ask council members at their September 14 regular meeting to schedule the special meeting, according to a statement released Thursday afternoon. The announcement means the fate of the Confederate monument — the removal of which is supported by Mayor Ashton Hayward — won’t likely be discussed at next month’s city council meeting but rather at some future date.
Hayward announced last week that he would like to see the monument removed from its place in Lee Square, located on Palafox Street near Cervantes. The 50-foot monument — dedicated to Confederate president Jefferson Davis, Pensacolian Confederate veterans Stephen R. Mallory and Edward Aylesworth Perry, and “the Uncrowned Heroes of the Southern Confederacy” — was erected in 1891, two years after what was then called Florida Square was renamed for Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
While he likely has the power as mayor to remove the monument, Hayward said Friday that he wouldn’t act unilaterally and would instead abide by a city policy dating back to 2000 which calls for city council approval before any monument is removed or relocated.
Two city council members — Spencer and Councilman Larry B. Johnson — have come out in support of Hayward’s plan, while one, Councilman Andy Terhaar, has said he does not support moving the monument. Councilwoman Sherri Myers was uncommitted, saying she hoped to host a “joint town hall meeting” with the Escambia-Pensacola Human Relations Commission on the issue. Other council members have not responded to requests for comment.
Earlier this week, the Human Relations Commission asked city council members to accept an offer from St. John’s Cemetery to take the monument, warning of the possibility for violence if the city doesn’t act swiftly. A pro-monument rally is planned for Saturday at Lee Square, an event which is expected to attract a substantial number of counter-protestors.