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Friday, August 18, 2017

Eustis official says city will take donated Confederate monuments

Posted By on Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 6:42 PM

  • Photo via orlandoweekly/Instagram
While the majority of elected officials across America looked on in horror at the death and destruction following a Charlottesville white supremacist rally around a Confederate statue, Eustis Commissioner Anthony Sabatini saw it and said the basic equivalent of "Yeah, give me two."

In a Facebook post, Sabatini said the Lake County city would "gladly accept" any donated Confederate monuments from municipalities that have removed them in the dead of night maybe because, I dunno, they don't want a repeat of the violence that led to the death of a 32-year-old woman after a driver plowed his car into protesters. Maybe that's it.

Sabatini pledges that Eustis will "proudly display our nation's history." Yes, that proud part of American history where the losing side of the Civil War decided to paint a revisionist myth of themselves as noble soldiers struggling to defend states' right instead of what they actually were – Confederates hellbent on preserving white supremacy and slavery, the region's economic engine.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center points out, most of the Confederate monuments standing today weren't built during the four-year war – most of the monuments were built during the 1920s as states were implementing Jim Crow laws targeting African Americans and resurged again during 1960s as black people fought against segregation during the Civil Rights Movement.

In fact, Central Florida has two racist incidents of violence that coincide with this the timeline. In 1920, white people razed Ocoee's black community to the ground after several African Americans tried to vote, killing an unknown number of black people and lynching one voter, July Perry, from a light pole in Orlando. In 1949, white mob in Groveland, which is also in Lake County, ravaged through the black community after four African-American men were falsely accused of raping a white woman. The monuments were less about honoring ancestors and more about showing black people who was still in control, and if you couldn't affirm white supremacy with a statue, you could always do it by shooting someone 400 times. But who's keeping track, right Sabatini?

After some backlash, Sabatini tried to walk back some of his original drivel by telling angry commenters that a Confederate statue in Eustis would not be about celebration or putting Confederates on a pedestal.

"These monuments can be put somewhere that people can learn about the tragic past in a more real way than a sterile history text – good, bad and ugly. Land somewhere. There are no history museums for these statues."

Looks like somebody has never heard of the Orange County Regional History Center, which has a permanent exhibit documenting African-American history and the racist atrocities that happened in Central Florida.

Shortly after Sabatini's initial post, the city of Eustis gave the commissioner the Mariah Carey treatment, saying "The Eustis City Commission has taken no formal action regarding Confederate statues. The statements made by Commissioner Sabatini were as an individual."

The Orlando Sentinel reports at least three commissioners voiced their disapproval to Sabatini's proposal, making it dead in the water before it even went Florida-man-viral. Unfortunately for Sabatini, the internet is forever.

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