Ever since New Times pointed out that several streets in a historically black neighborhood in Hollywood are named for former Confederate generals (and one member of the Ku Klux Klan), activists have been fighting to have them renamed.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the debate has brought neo-Confederates out of the woodwork.
After a Facebook event was created to encourage people to attend Hollywood's City Commission meeting and advocate for changing the street names, a Tampa-based group called Save Southern Heritage Florida picked it up.
“The host of evil is arrayed against us,” a post on the group’s page said. “The role model of Christians even today Robert E. Lee is being made a mockery right under our noses in Florida...WAKE UP...THEY ARE COMING FOR US....ARE YOU GOING TO SLEEP THROUGH IT OR DO SOMETHING? TOMORROW IS D-DAY.”
In the end, though, there was no dramatic showdown. David McAllister, the spokesman for Save Southern Heritage Florida, says he doesn't believe anyone from the group attended the meeting.
A handful of other people from so-called “Southern heritage” groups showed up to defend Robert E. Lee, John Bell Hood, and Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, whom they argued had been misunderstood.
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Among them was Raymond Hatfield, who belongs to the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. “When you start selecting your history, you start erasing your history,” he said. “Several countries have tried that in the past. Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany are two of the primary ones. And neither turned out very well.”
Brian Turner, a member of the Sunshine State Heritage Political Action Committee, argued that the city should honor all veterans — including Confederate veterans. “Social media has controlled this, has dominated this, and has not given the American public and our elected officials a fair story of our leaders,” he said.
Comments like his disturbed Romano Lopez, who had come to the meeting to speak about a different issue. “If these same veterans that these gentlemen are trying to honor had succeeded, half the people sitting here today would not be able to speak in this forum,” he pointed out. “These people wanted to extinguish everyone who was not white.”
Meanwhile, there’s no reason to expect that the streets’ names will be changing anytime soon, as Hollywood’s City Commission has yet to formally take up the issue.