County commissioners vote 4-3 to keep Hillsborough Confederate statue

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Confederate soldier monument will remain outside of the Hillsborough County Courthouse.

On Wednesday, the Hillsborough County Commission discussed removing the memorial, but eventually voted to keep it.

Republican Commissioners Stacy White, Victor Crist, Sandy Murman and Ken Hagan all voted to keep the Confederate memorial where it is.

Commissioners Les Miller, Al Higginbotham and Pat Kemp voted to remove it.

Miller was the commissioner who led the charge to remove the monument and called on his fellow commissioners to take action.

“These lost souls are our family. An attack on our heritage is a direct attack on my grandfathers,” said Donny McCurry, whose relatives fought for the Confederacy.

In a packed meeting of the commission, Kevin White told commissioners the memorial was put up to bring the country together, not tear it apart.

“It was erected with the purpose of binding up the wounds of war. It’s a monument of peace. It’s a monument of reconciliation,” said Wright.

David McCallister with the Sons of Confederate Veterans told commissioners his group put out a survey that shows a majority of registered voters in the county want to keep the memorial.

“It found out that there were 77 percent (of voters) in favor of keeping this monument right where it is,” McCallister said.

He believes the memorial honors veterans.

Others told commissioners they find it offensive every time they walk past it on their way in to the courthouse.

“It should be moved. It is in the wrong place. You’ve got to walk past this Confederate memorial to seek justice. That is absolutely, unequivocally wrong,” said Gerald White.

County Commissioner Stacy White is among those who believe the memorial should stay.

“Well, that is a piece of Florida and Hillsborough County’s history and heritage and you cannot erase history,” White said.

Monuments and flags have been removed from public property all over the U.S. because people find the symbols offensive.

White believes removing monuments is a “slippery slope” and opens the door to taking away other monuments to veterans of wars because people find the conflicts they fought in to be offensive.

“This monument is indeed a piece of our history. It also has intrinsic artistic value. Some will say if it’s a piece of history, then move it to a museum, but not all of our history should be relegated to a museum. It tempers a community to have living breathing history. We should provide for living breathing history and not reopen wounds that have taken so long to heal,” said White.

In the end, Commissioner Miller did not have the votes to take down the monument that he’s found to be offensive his entire life.

Miller is a descendent of slaves who grew up in a segregated Tampa. Taking down the memorial has been a goal of his since he first became a member of the county commission.

On Wednesday, Miller was clearly disappointed his efforts had failed.

“It stays and it will continue to be divisive in this community and I can tell you that right now,” said Miller.

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