Home / Confederate flag now flies where Robert E. Lee bust once sat

Confederate flag now flies where Robert E. Lee bust once sat

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

A confederate flag is now flying in the downtown Fort Myers spot where that the Robert. E. Lee bust once occupied. That bust was at the center of a massive debate for years.

WINK News is still trying to determine how long the flag has been there. But reporter Breana Ross saw the flag while she was out working on a Black History Month story.

This is not a confederate flag many have seen before, but it is one of the confederacy’s original flags.

Lee County NAACP President James Muwakkil says he noticed the flag and a wreath a few weeks ago and asked The City of Fort Myers to remove the flag on Tuesday.

Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson says the flag and wreath are code violations. The City’s legal team will talk about what action to take. “It’s not the content of the violation, but it’s whether or not it is a violation. And if it is deemed to be a violation of code, then we need to correct it,” said Mayor Anderson.

Fort Myers City Councilman Johnny Streets is upset knowing that someone put these emblems here after the tedious fight to get the Robert E. Lee bust and its pedestal removed. “It’s childish. This is not going to bring any healing,” Streets said.

“This is not going to bring any togetherness. It only creates division, and this is not what America is all about. We can move forward together,” said Streets.

Mayor Anderson is unsure when the City will be able to do something about the flag.

And, those who patronize downtown Fort Myers businesses were saddened and upset by the flag and wreathe here.

This is what is known as the First National Confederate Flag and a wreath. People in Fort Myers say the flag is a symbol of hate that simply changed faces from the bust that used to be here.

Jeffrey Fortney is an Assistant Professor of history at FGCU. “This was the flag that was first ratified as the Confederate national flag,” said Fortney.

Fortney says this first confederate flag symbolizes so much and is more than just fabric. “A symbol of the Confederacy is a symbol of a rebellion against the United States purely for the purpose of forming a country predicated on racial slavery, specifically, Black slavery,” said Fortney.

The people who live and work here want the flag and wreath removed. Keniece lives in Fort Myers and says this flag is a symbol of hate.

“It’s not really what we should have in our city. Personally, I feel like if they are going to keep putting like symbols of hate like the confederate flag and stuff like on there too like. Um, there is a lot of like negative connotation behind it and stuff so if we want to come together as a community at all and diversify the area like I feel like they shouldn’t do that stuff,” they said.

With the Robert E. Lee Bust gone and the 1st National Confederate Flag in its place, some have started to dig deeper into Lee County’s history. Eric certainly did.

“Being Spanish and Brown skin it actually makes me a little bit uneasy now knowing that and putting it in perspective. I had no idea that Lee County was named after Robert E. Lee it makes kinda sense now, but it makes me a little uneasy,” he said.

Eric didn’t like that answer Mayor Anderson offered. “The fact that he acts like it’s a bureaucracy in itself and it needs to be handled as such just tells me a lot. You know where I come from, if there is graffiti let’s say anti-Semitic graffiti or something the very next day it’s gone. If this will take a couple of days to remove a flag that tells me a lot,” Eric said.

“Placing it at in such a prominent downtown position near City Hall is in itself making a statement And that’s a statement that I think most of us are ready to move on from,” said Fortney.

Again, we also do not know who put the flag and wreath here, but WINK News will keep you updated as we get more details.