Florence County Council votes against showcasing Confederate statue in museum

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 6:40 PM EDT
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FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - A controversial statue will not be displayed at the Florence County Museum after public outcry from the community.

“It’s unconscionable and also appalling that our African American community continues to fight hate and racism,” said Florence resident, Suzanne La Rochelle.

The statue shows General William W. Harllee, who was one of South Carolina’s confederate leaders, with his daughter Florence.

Back in July, Florence County Council voted voted 5-4 in favor of placing the Harllee Memorial Sculpture in the museum’s courtyard. There was also a discussion on the possibility of placing it somewhere else.

But the first vote caused outrage from people in the community and the Florence Branch of the NAACP.

The public outcry led to the Florence County Council revisiting the issue during a meeting on Thursday morning.

During the meeting, The Harllee Memorial Sculpture Committee also turned in a letter, asking city leaders to rescind their first vote.

In the end, the county council voted to not place the statue at the Florence County Museum.

Florence County Councilmember Buddy Brant said it was not their intention to divide the community, and he is glad that the motion was defeated.

“It’s the right thing to do and we want to be community-minded for everybody,” said Brant. “It’s not about the past. It’s all about what we are going to do now and moving to the future, and it’s a good thing. We will work it out.”

President of the Florence Branch NAACP, Jerry Keith, said this is a step forward and growth for the city of Florence.

“This is an example of people standing up for what is right, I think this is an awareness, a consciousness, and a wakefulness,” said Keith.

Members of the council said it was not their intention to divide the community of Florence when they made their first decision.

The future of the statue remains uncertain. For now, the statue’s committee will keep it inside a warehouse. Discussions about the statue could be brought up in future council meetings.