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Fate of Olustee monument lies in the hands of city officials as county leaders hand the land over

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 11:38 PM EDT
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LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) - Columbia County commissioners offered a quitclaim deed to the park to the city of Lake City. At Monday’s Lake City Council meeting, leaders said they had not received the quitclaim deed to Olustee Park. However, city council members still heard from the community about the confederate monument commemorating the Battle of Olustee. Now, they are tasked with the decision to leave the monument put or move it. First, city leaders must obtain the quitclaim deed from the county.

RELATED STORY: Columbia County Commission votes to deed Olustee Park to Lake City, a confederate monument along with it

“I think we are going to have some with the members to make sure everything with the deed is OK. That process moves forward first before the park,” explained District 14 Council Member Chris Greene.

Then comes the monument. While nothing is set in stone, some residents believe the monument should be moved to Oaklawn Cemetery, the final resting place of the soldiers.

RELATED STORY: Lake City’s quitclaim request denied by Columbia County Commission, Olustee Confederate monument will stay put

“I advocate that the monument be where the bodies are. The monument is downtown on the city square, and it was put up during the time of Jim Crow and Klansman and white supremacists. It was put up there to intimidate people,” said Glenel Bowden, a resident who is in support of moving the monument.

Kyle Green, a supporter of leaving the monument in place, is concerned the condition of the cemetery will put the monument at risk of being damaged.

RELATED STORY: Supporters rally to protect a monument commemorating the Battle of Olustee

“Go out there and look at Oaklawn Cemetery, the monument that is already out there, the grave sites, it is destroyed, and it is ridiculous. A lot of the tombstones are falling apart,” explained Green.

However, Bowden thinks moving the monument could motivate city leaders to clean up the cemetery. Council Member Greene said all of the city council members would listen to everyone in the community on this issue.

RELATED STORY: Land study shows Olustee Park is owned by Columbia County

“They want to listen, and at the end of the day, they are going to do what they think is best for their community,” explained Greene.

RELATED STORY: Confederate monument in Columbia County sits atop unclaimed land

The council member said timing in this decision is crucial and doesn’t believe anything will happen immediately. 

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