REV. RONALD RAWLS' inauthentic, insincere, illogical, ill-timed, irritating Astroturf® "protest" annoyed but did not inform, and it did not promote healing.
RAWLS' phony protest included out-of-town protesters, some whom sported signs lambasting putative racist "statues."
There are no Confederate "statues" in St. Augustine. Only memorials to dead veterans.
These chants and signs about "statues" were fungible cookie-cutter items from protests elsewhere.
How many towns have they appeared in? They're inapplicable to the facts of our local Civil War veteran monument here.
This is a road show, right, with funky, fungible intellectual property -- dupey signs and chants with cliches by the carload, shedding more heat than light, unadorned by any community organizing or honest effort to educate (rather than infuriate)?
Vladimir Putin would approve.
Our City Commissioners heard and heeded 106 speakers at the August 28 and October 23, 2017 meetings. We're keeping our 1870s Civil War veteran monument in the Plaza de la Constitucion. We're going to contextualize it with explanatory panels, after work by a seven person advisory committee.
That wasn't good enough for RAWLS, who issued a famously furious fatuous fatwa threatening our economy.
Enough flummery, dupery and nincompoopery from the man who destroyed most of Echo House and has a demolition permit to destroy the rest of it next year, unless he raises enough funds (having apparently shown no interest or ability in raising funds since 2008).
Does RAWLS have a fetish for destroying historic structures in St. Augustine?
Why did his parishioners tell HARB that God called him to destroy Echo House for parking?
Is that blasphemy?
Does any believer really believe Rev. RAWLS gets orders from God demanding a demolition derby of our history in St. Augustine?
The hubristic notion that the deity would give orders to the "Rev." to tear down Echo House -- an historic 1926 African-American building -- and to tear it down for parking is, at best, cheesy, sleazy and theologically and epistemologically suspect.
It is also rank hearsay, which Lincoln compared to the soup made from the shadow of a pigeon who had starved to death.
Will Rev. RAWLS, et al. kindly use their God-given talents and think before they threaten our economy over Confederate veteran monuments?
Protesting against non-existent "statues" and calling an 1870s Civil War veteran monument "racist" is, at best, facetious. This misdirected activist energy is painful to watch. It reminds me of Al Capp's satirical 1960s cartoons about "Students Wildly Indignant About Nearly Everything" (SWINE).
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter…” -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Will RAWLS, et al. kindly protest about something meaningful, like police body cameras, Justice for Michelle O'Connell, and other issues of civil rights violations and corruption here in St. Johns County?
Otherwise, is RAWLS a bully and a brat, a self-destructive Elmer Gantry with a big ego, one with a rebarbative reptilian reputation that he now cannot live down -- as a history demolition fetishist with a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease and pointless asinine Astroturf® "protests?"
Nice diversion, Rev. RAWLS. Sheriff SHOAR and his developer buddies appreciate your phony "protest."
Posted November 19, 2017 06:57 am
By JAKE MARTIN firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Augustine Record
Holiday cheer, plenty of jeers at Nights of Lights
Even in years a little more lean on controversy, Light-Up! Night in St. Augustine’s Plaza de la Constitucion can already be a confusing mishmash of people, ideas and symbols, and, yes, millions of pretty lights.
Against the backdrop of the start of the city’s signature holiday event, those opposed to the city’s recent decision to keep a Confederate monument, and unsatisfied with the stipulation to add signage for context to the site, marched on the plaza to have their voices heard. But they weren’t the only ones speaking their minds.
The planned nonviolent protest, called “Remove Them Now,” was part of the Rev. Ron Rawls’ push to have two monuments removed — one on city property and the other on University of Florida property. Rawls and others have asked the city to remove the monuments saying they symbolize racism and slavery.
Many people have spoken in support of keeping the monuments in place, often making the case for their historical value and insisting they are inoffensive. Others point to memorials to civil rights activists sharing space in the plaza and ask whether they should remain if others have to go.
The city’s monument, on the east side of the plaza, installed in the 1870s by the Ladies Memorial Association, is for local men who died in the service of the Confederate states in the Civil War. A marble plaque on the west face of the monument reads, simply, “Our Dead.” Other marble tablets contain names of the dead and eulogies.
People speaking in defense of the monument say it was not erected as a glorification of the Confederacy but rather as a place for local families, who didn’t get a chance to bury their dead, to mourn. Some relatives still live in the area.
The university’s monument, between Government House and Flagler College, is for Confederate Gen. William Wing Loring and his service in the Civil War and other conflicts.
The monument was installed in 1920 by the Daughters of the Confederacy and bears relief carvings of both the Confederate flag and the American flag. It also refers to Loring as a “distinguished American soldier” whose ability was recognized by three governments. Loring’s ashes are buried on the site, although they’ve been buried elsewhere before, including in New York City, where he died in 1886.
According to a recent report in the Gainesville Sun, UF officials say it won’t be until at least spring that they decide what, if anything, to do about the monument.
Ahead of the actual lighting ceremony to kick off the Nights of Lights, Rawls and hundreds of fellow protesters, black and white, marched toward the plaza from St. Paul AME Church on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.
As a band playing at Government House was wrapping up a cover of the late Tom Petty’s “Last Dance with Mary Jane,” protesters marched across Andrew Young Crossing with signs reading “White Supremacy and Racism is Destroying AmeriKKKa,” “Love is the Answer,” “Let’s Confront Our Racist History” and others with a lot more to say, often with a Confederate flag with a prohibited sign superimposed over it in the background.
Their chants of “Take them down” were met by chants from some in the crowd of “No one cares,” as well as chants from St. Augustine Tea Party members, Three Percenters and others of “Leave them up.”
Tea Party members gathered around the Confederate War Memorial carried Gadsen flags, depicting the coiled rattlesnake and the words “DONT TREAD ON ME,” as well as signs that read “Save Our City’s Historic Monuments” and “Tea Party Supports Our Veterans.”
As they made their way around the plaza, the “Remove Them Now” protesters rotated between a number of chants including “This is what democracy looks like” and “Sorry about your Christmas lights, but we are in a bigger fight.” Counterprotesters responded with boos and expletives and calls for the protesters to “Go back to work” and “Stop erasing history.”
One man walking against the flow of protesters along King Street kept throwing up his hands and saying “Asinine cause, asinine cause.”
At times, members from both camps yelled “You lost, get over it” to the other side.
Most people, waiting out the unrest on their blankets or in their fold-out chairs, seemed to want no part of it. People described what they were seeing as “crazy” and “ridiculous,” or “just a mess.”
“It’s not even, like, a monument,” one woman said of the Confederate War Memorial. “They’re just trying to drive as much attention to themselves as possible.”
One man started singing a sarcastic rendition of “Holly Jolly Christmas.”
Officers with the St. Augustine Police Department, St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol and St. Johns County Fire Rescue were visibly present, both inside and outside the large clusters of people.
All this time, the All-Star Orchestra, performing under the Gazebo, kept playing holiday songs such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad.”
By the time the switch was flipped, it was clear the intended spectacle of the lights and the live oaks and historic buildings they illuminate wasn’t going to take a backseat to anything, at least for the majority of the crowd. The “Take Them Down” chants of protesters were drowned out by calls to “Light the tree.”
The annual Light-Up! Night event draws big crowds, including families with young children, and kicks off the Nights of Lights season and, indeed, the holiday season, in St. Augustine. It’s marketed by officials and business owners alike, for locals and visitors alike.
Rachael Ray Magazine has named the display one of the nation’s “twinkliest.” National Geographic Magazine in 2011 and 2012 named St. Augustine one of the top ten cities worldwide for holiday lighting displays.
Helping Mayor Nancy Shaver throw the switch this year was city event administrator Wanda Bray, who will retire in 2018 after about 15 years, and Michael Lugo, owner and executive chef at Michael’s Tasting Room. Bray was chosen for her efforts in making city events happen and helping the city host dignitaries. Lugo was chosen for helping people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and for feeding city crews after Hurricane Matthew.
The lights are on nightly until Jan. 31.