TAVARES, Fla. — More than 250 people marched down Main Street in Tavares Saturday, protesting the decision to bring a statue of a Confederate general to the historical society there.

The statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith was one of two statues representing Florida in the U.S. Capitol Building. But the state is replacing it with a statue of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.

Last month, the Lake County commission approved a move to allow the Lake County Historical Society to bring the statue to Tavares, despite strong opposition from many residents and nine city mayors against doing so.

"The real issue is why, in 2019, does Lake County want to bring a Confederate statue and put it in a county building," said Rev. Michael Watkins from Friendship CME Church, which is among the groups protesting.

Conservative residents in Lake County have voiced their support for the statue, but have no plans to launch a counter march. 

The Smith statue is staying in Washington while plans to move it are finalized. It would not be brought here until next summer. 

Smith was from St. Augustine, but residents there said they had no interest in taking the statue. It's not believed that he had a connection to Lake County. 


The Edmund Kirby Smith statue at the U.S. Capitol. (File)
The Edmund Kirby Smith statue at the U.S. Capitol. (File)