FORT MYERS, Fla — Volunteers reinstalled a bust of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monroe Street, that had been removed by vandals.
Members from the Sons of the Confederacy and Keep Lee in Lee used a cherry picker to remount the 125 pound statue Tuesday night. The work caused police to close a section of Monroe street, and drew a crowd of on-lookers.
"I had no clue that anyone decided to put it back up, I just heard it got knocked down," said John Jones, who is visiting from Indiana.
Fort Myers Police say someone removed the statue from its base sometime Monday night into Tuesday morning, and left it on the ground.
It took workers several hours to put it back up, with some wondering how long it will stay there.
"We spent so many years with this being up and then it’s a removed. It’s a hard call to make," said Ryan Ogan.
Daughters of the Confederacy donated the bust to the city of Ft. Myers in 1966. It was seen by some as a slap in the face to those fighting for civil rights.
The Lee County chapter of the NAACP has called for the statue to be moved, saying Lee fought for a rogue nation that supported slavery.
Florida Gulf Coast University Professor Jeff Fortney, who specializes in monuments, says he doesn't see debate on this issue ending anytime soon.
“There’s options of giving more contexts to the monuments, adding plaques that say: this is who Lee was, and this is what the Confederacy was about, which was 100 percent about the preservation of slavery.”
Fort Myers Police say anyone who vandalizes a monument could be convicted of a felony. They are investigating this case.