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Two rallies in Palatka featuring opposite viewpoints on the Confederate memorial on the courthouse lawn attracted law enforcement, motorcyclists and peaceful demonstrators Saturday. While both were originally supposed to take place on the Putnam County Courthouse lawn that changed when the group organized by two area college students decided to move to the county complex on Crill Avenue and the protest morphed into something of a voter drive although Black Lives Matter and racism accusations were alive on posters and in speeches. A number of handmade posters and signs for Presidential candidate Joe Biden were on display. The counter protest organized by a St. Augustine group was held at the courthouse where the statue under attack was surrounded by barricades and streets were blocked off. Putnam County resident Richard Earl told the crowd the statue was “to remember sacrifice” and noted it was a common Southern trait was “to support each other and family.” American flags, a variety of Confederate battle flags and Trump 2020 banners were in evidence.
A 27-year-old man was shot in Palatka late Friday night on the northside, according to Palatka Police. The man was found in the area of 1400 Washington Street around 11:45 p.m. and had been shot at least once. He was taken to Putnam Community Medical Center where he died. Palatka Police haven’t released his name or any other information except to say they have verified the shooting was not in relation to the marches planned for Saturday. They did say they would provide addition information as the investigation unfolds although nothing had been released as of today.
Three coronavirus related deaths were reported in Putnam County over the weekend by the Florida Department of Health in Putnam. Deaths of two men – one 81 and the other 83 – were reported Friday. The death of an 84-year-old woman was reported Saturday. That brings total deaths to 26. Over the weekend 61 new cases were reported bringing the total to 1,508. St. Johns County reported 122 cases between Friday and Sunday bringing their total to 3,625. Flagler County reported 79 new cases over the weekend. Their total is 1,070 since counting began in March.
St. Augustine City Commission meets on Zoom at 5 p.m. tonight to talk statues and hotel signs. The Hilton Hotel and Marriott Hotel on Prawn Street want large wall signs on the top floors of the multi-story hotels going in off King Street at one of the main entrances to St. Augustine. The bigger signs started after the city allowed Flagler College a zoning for wall signs. The hotels aren’t within the zoning boundaries and they’re seeking to be included. Also on the agenda an expected recommendation by City Manager John Regan to move the obelisk honoring 47 St. Augustine men who died fighting for the Confederacy from the downtown Plaza de la Constitucion to Trout River Fish Camp on State Road 13. Camp owner Randy Ringhaver offered the location and said he will build a park setting with lighting, sidewalks and seating for the public. The commission’s controversial 3-2 decision to move the monument continues to draw opposition.
Putnam County Commission meets Tuesday at 9 a.m. via Zoom. At 9:05 they’ll meet as governing board of the Putnam County Port Authority.
A 20-year-old man has been charged with DUI with property damage/injury after he struck and injured two bicyclists on Palm Valley Road Saturday morning. Caleb Richter was charged after witnesses reported the 20-year-old was driving recklessly, lost control and sideswiped another car before hitting a third car and then the two bicyclists. The two bicyclists are in stable condition, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.