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Group says Fort Myers may not legally have right to remove Robert E. Lee statue

Posted at 11:30 PM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 23:30:20-04

FORT MYERS, FLA — A silent reminder of our nation's past, is generating a lot of discussion once again at Fort Myers City Hall.

Those for and against the removal of the city's Robert E. Lee statue, laid out their case Monday night.

"We say we are a country that believes in democracy? Well democracy has spoken," said a Fort Myers man.

"The bust is down now and it needs to remain down," said another resident.

"It has a place in history but it does not have a place in downtown Fort Myers," said one woman.

"Please don't be influenced by those who wish to destroy our history," said another man.

"The city is acting in tyranny," said one resident.

The speakers included those who take care of the statue, the sons and daughters of confederate veterans.

"We've been the caretakers of the monument for the last 20 years," said a group member.

The group says the statue's bust has been taken down for repairs and claims it's not a symbol of hate, but of history.

"We're not here to divide, we're not here for a fight, we're not supremacist," said one woman.

They also provided documents that claim the city doesn't own it and thus, can't touch it, or really make a decision about it one way or the other.

"That paper states the county owns the statue, not the city," a woman said.

But the city attorney, Grant Alley, says he's never seen that paperwork.

He claims that based on documents from the statue's original unveiling ceremony documents from the 1960s, the statue was a gift to the city and county.

Alley adds that the land it sits on it city-owned.

"I believe you own it," he said.

Several city council members also want to see that statue removed altogether.

"Is it worth the division?" said Teresa Watkins-Brown.

"We weren't even allowed on this side of town at that time," said Terolyn Watson.

But the Alley says he needs more time before making a decision.

"I would recommend that you not take action this tonight," said Alley.

The city council has given the Alley and the city manager 30 days to speak with those who take care of the statue to talk about next steps for it.

Alley will also have to bring the council recommendations for what they should do with the statue once and for all.

In the meantime the council don't want the statue's bust to go back up, its been taken down for repairs.