Petition Urges Removal of Fla. Courthouse Mural Featuring KKK

Backer County Courthouse in northern Florida
WJXT-TV screenshot
Backer County Courthouse in northern Florida
WJXT-TV screenshot

A petition is calling for the removal of a 135-square-foot mural at the Baker County Courthouse in North Florida, saying it presents “a racially biased look at history” and should be removed from a building that is supposed to promote justice for all.


The petition to the Baker County Board of Commissioners on Saturday has received more than 1,300 signatures from across the country.

The mural by the late artist Gene Barber depicts hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan on horseback among flowers and wildlife as part of the “Baker County historical perspective,” the petition says. The mural, painted in 2001, also shows blacks as naked and aboriginal with spear imagery that never existed in the county, just outside of Jacksonville, Fla. It also features stereotypical representations of Native Americans and other divisive imagery, the petition states.

“Lawlessness among ex-slaves and troublesome whites was the rule of the day,” Barber writes in the mural’s description, the petition says. “No relief was given by the carpetbag and scalawag government or by the Union troops. The result was the emergence of secret societies claiming to bring law and order to the county. One of these groups was the Ku Klux Klan, an organization that sometimes took vigilante justice to extremes but was sometimes the only control the county knew over those outside the law.”

Baker County has long been known as a hotbed of racism, the petition notes. On Oct. 5, 1920, four black men were arrested as possible witnesses or suspects in the death of a prominent young white farmer named John Harvey. Later, the Klan and about 50 white men seized the men from the jail and dragged them across the county, then shot and lynched them, the petition says.

No word yet on a response from the Baker County Commissioners about the removal of the mural.