Residents oppose relocation of Confederate statue from Capitol to Tavares museum

TAVARES, Fla. — Dozens of Lake County residents attended a Board of County Commissioners meeting Tuesday to voice their opposition to a statue of a Confederate general that will be relocated from the U.S. Capitol building to the Historic Courthouse in Tavares.

The Lake County Historical Society chose to accept and display the statue.

Commissioners said they can't determine a course of action for the society, but the county can cancel its lease with the society, which has a museum on the first floor of the county building.

"Gen. Smith stood for bondage in a time when blacks were only recognized as human commodities," said the Rev. Chris Walker, of Groveland.

"We have reference to the devil in many historical books, especially the Bible, but we would not erect a statue of Satan," an opponent of the statue said. "This is an evil statue, and (what) a terrible thing we would do in bringing it here."

"Not a single person who has gotten up and spoken is in favor of this," another opponent said. "That should tell you everything that you need to know."

Four of the five commissioners said their opinions were swayed.

"They haven't officially accepted it to my knowledge, and I don't see how anything good comes out of this," Commissioner Timothy Sullivan said.

But the opinion of Bob Grenier, the Lake County Historical Museum's curator, hasn't changed.

"All I know is museums' jobs are to collect, observe and educate," he said. "And we should not censor museums."