A statue of Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, the namesake of the county, will soon be removed from the courthouse after a lawyers group raised concerns that he had been a racist, Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief said Tuesday.
“This is just a piece of artwork and has nothing to do with the commission,” Sharief told the Herald Tuesday. “Complaints came in and subsequently the statue will be removed.”
The statue’s fate came into question after the courthouse news and gossip blog, JAABlog, published documents including a speech in which Broward called for African Americans to be relocated to a separate nation, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The issue comes as the nation now grapples with similar questions about removing symbols that commemorate people who advocated slavery. In August, Hollywood commissioners decided to change the name of three streets named after confederate generals following protests and complaints.
Defense lawyer Bill Gelin, who runs JAABlog , told the Sentinel that the decision to remove Broward’s statue is the right one.
“A lot of people across the country feel the scales of justice are tilted against black people,” Gelin told the paper. “To force them to parade past a monument to an outspoken, post-Reconstruction racist on the way to those very same criminal courts seems insensitive at best and possibly unjust.”
Broward, who served as Florida’s governor from 1905 to 1908, is most known for his work in the Everglades. He died at 53 in 1910.
Sharief said members of the TJ Reddick Bar Association, a group of African-American lawyers, complained about having to see the statue every day.
She said after discussing the issue with several people including Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter, the decision was made to remove the statue — which was gifted to the county in 1983 and has been on display since 1993. It will now be put into storage.
“There’s really no reason for it to be there,” she said.