MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — On Friday afternoon, several survivors and allies of the Dozier School for boys came together to dedicate a memorial in honor of the victims. 

“The monument that we’re looking at today serves as many things,” State Senator Tracie Davis said. “It serves as a stain on our state’s history. It serves as a way to honor the boys and the men and their families who were lost here or lost their lives here and that’s a great reminder to us that cruelty exists and cannot ever, ever be ignored or overlooked.” 

In the late 1990s, a group of men who attended the school in the 50s and 60s began speaking out, and sharing stories of physical and sexual abuse they endured at the hands of staff. 

“At the age of 14 years old I was here,” former Dozier School student Cecil Gardner said. “Mistreated, beat, raped at 14 years old and was told that if I had mentioned it to anyone I would never see my family again.” 

The men also alleged there were many boys that were beaten to death and whose bodies were buried on the school’s grounds. 

After the school closed in 2011, University of South Florida anthropologist Erin Kimmerle spent three years investigating. 

“Dr. Kimmerle could not physically do that total penetrating radar that should have been done because the state after they closed the school just allowed things to grow up,” former Dozier School student Charles Fudge said. 

Kimmerle said she found 55 burials in unmarked graves on the school’s property.  

Survivors, however, are calling for the state to step in and finish her work.

“There are still bodies on this ground that need to be found,” Fudge said. 

The memorial sits next to the building survivors call “the white house” where they claim a majority of the abuse took place. 

“And this statue behind me, I can’t look at it because it brings back memories and I’ve never would be able to forget,” Gardner said.

Survivors said the memorial is a step in the right direction, but the state needs to do more to ensure this never happens again.