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Police prepare for protests at controversial Fort Myers statue Tuesday

The debate over a confederate statue in downtown Fort Myers is going to get more heated, as protesters of the statue plan on making their opinion known on Tuesday.

 

The statue in downtown Fort Myers/WINK News

The two sides involved are far from reaching a middle ground over the Robert E. Lee statue.

As critics and supporters gear up for a showdown on Tuesday, Fort Myers Police say they’re making special preparations ahead of the planned demonstration organized by the Lee County NAACP.

NAACP President James Muwakkil/WINK News

“Obviously nobody wants any sort of violence….you know, altercations. Nobody wants any confrontation or hostility,” said Rachel Bass.

Those opposed to the statue want it moved from city property to a less conspicuous location like a history museum. Other groups say they plan to join the cause as well.

“It’s time for people outside of that immediate circle to come and support their efforts,” Bass said.

Supporters of the statue, like the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, plan to stage their own demonstration.

The statue in downtown Fort Myers/WINK News

“They just want to protect the statue from a physical standpoint, so it doesn’t wind up like a lot of the statues vandalized that have been in the news recently,” said Steve Fabian.

As the group’s spokesman, Fabian says the statue should remain a visible symbol of the country’s history.

“If you can’t have a statue of Robert E. Lee in the county seat of Robert E. Lee county, and a portrait of him, where can you have it?” Fabian said.

Sons of the Confederacy/WINK News

But critics say it sends a hateful message.

“It’s not like a historical thing that happened right after the Civil War. It was put up during a time where the county and Fort Myers was being forcibly desegregated,” Bass said. “These things were placed here to send the message of who’s in charge, and it’s not the African American population.”

Both sides say they’re committed to making sure the demonstrations remain peaceful.

The event is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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