Protesters clash over bust of Robert E. Lee in downtown Fort Myers
A small crowd of people Tuesday morning took to downtown Fort Myers to protest the controversial Robert E. Lee statue.
NAACP president James Muwakkil stressed the need for the statue’s removal.
“It’s not who we are. It’s not America today. No one should be glorifying it,” Muwakkil said.
Robert B. Forrest III, of Keep Lee in Lee, emphasized the importance of keeping the statue.
“I think it’s a bad idea regardless of the topic to remove erase or alter history,” Forrest III said.
Judt Alves, a supporter of the NAACP, spoke to the reasoning behind protesting the removal of the confederate statue.
“The demonstration is to send the message not just to get rid of these icons in the public,” Alves said. “Put them in history museums where they belong and you can fully explain the issues.”
Several supporters and critics of the took the matter to Lee County commissioners following the protests, but were told the confederate leader bust is a city issue.
Cecil Pendergrass, a Lee County commissioner, advocated for “the city to keep it up ’cause it’s a downtown monument.”
Pendergrass questioned the motives of the NAACP.
“James does this every couple of years to get attention and get fundraiser for NAACP and to bully other businesses to make money,” Pendergrass said.
Muwakkil said he’s received threats due to the this issue, but will persevere and continue protesting until there is action.
“We knew they were going to be angry but we wanted to meet it head on. we’re not hiding. we’re not going away,” Muwakkil said.
WINK News anchor Britni McDonald went live via Facebook from the protest in downtown Fort Myers:
Robert E Lee statue protest
Posted by Britni McDonald WINK News on Tuesday, May 15, 2018
WINK News reached out to the city on whether they would consider removing the bust, but have yet to receive a comment.
WINK News reporter Oliver Redsten has more details: