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Traffic Tickets To Fund Relocation of Lakeland Confederate Statue

The Lakeland City Commission has been planning to move a century-old Confederate memorial since last December, but they’ve only just figured out how to pay for it: traffic tickets.

Commissioners voted on Friday to use $225,000 of revenue from red light camera violations to move a Confederate statuefrom Munn Park in downtown Lakeland to Veterans Memorial Park.

The marble monument was erected in 1910 by the Lakeland Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. But after requests from some members of the community, city commissioners voted last December to relocate it.  

“They didn’t ask for it to be torn down or put in storage,” said communications director Kevin Cook. “Just to be moved to what they felt would be a more fitting place for it.”

City commissioners and mayor Bill Mutz offered up two options for the final placement of the monument: Veterans Memorial Park and Roselawn Cemetery. In May, they voted unanimously for the park.

Cook said the commissioners believe they've picked a more appropriate place for the statue because it already has a number of memorials for those who have served the country.

"If Veterans Park would've been around in the early 1900s, that's probably where our city's forefathers would've placed it," he said.

Cook said there were a number of people in the community who were opposed to the relocation, so the city always planned on using private funds instead of taxpayer money.

They set up a GoFundMe page and received other cash and check donations. However, as of Oct. 10, they only had about 11% of the $225,000 goal.

At Friday’s meeting, they decided to instead use the money from red light camera violations. Cook said anyone who donated to the relocation effort previously will get their money back.

There is no set timeline for the relocation yet, but Cook said Mutz would like it done by the end of January 2019. 

Bethany Hanson is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news reporter for spring 2018.