Activists say fight to remove Tampa Confederate memorial is not over

Protesters placed signs on the Confederate monument in downtown Tampa.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Community activists and some elected officials say the fight over a controversial Confederate memorial in Tampa is not over.

Hillsborough County Commissioners voted to preserve a memorial located outside the courthouse after a packed meeting with people speaking passionately on both sides of the issue.

The memorial was first erected in Tampa in 1911 by the Daughters of the Confederacy.

County Commissioner Les Miller asked for the memorial to be removed, but four commissioners sided with Commissioner Stacy White who moved to preserve this memorial and other war memorials in the county.

Commissioner Victor Crist added a compromise to the vote by suggesting a mural be added behind the monument depicting civil rights images.

A group opposing the monument is calling the mural a “slap in the face”.

“Commissioner Victor Crist’s suggestion the Monument be complimented with a mural depicting the area’s diversity is a slap in the face to this community. We will not stand for symbols of hate and call on the county commission to join with cities like Orlando, Gainesville, and New Orleans that are tearing down these monuments to racist ‘Lost Cause’ mythology,”

“It’s time for the South’s Civil War Hangover to be over once and for all,” said Devan Cheaves.

Chloe Coney, who recently retired as the district director for Rep. Kathy Castor, spoke at an event to protest the memorial about growing up in a segregated Tampa.

“When I was little, I had to drink from the colored water fountain. I had to go to the back of the bus,” she said.

Coney says allowing the statute to stay outside of a county building reaffirms that racism still exists.

Rev. James T. Golden of the Mt. Zion AME Church called for the county commissioners who voted to keep the memorial to reconsider their vote.

“We will not go away. We will not be afraid and we will not stop,” Golden said. “To the four of you, one of you must change not just your mind, but you got to change your heart.”

County Commissioner Pat Kemp spoke at the event. Kemp was one of three commissioners who voted for the memorial to be removed. She says she plans to bring the issue up again at the next county commission meeting.

“It can be brought back again. There is no prohibition on bringing it back. Anyone can bring it back. I do expect that it will be reconsidered,” said Kemp.

David McCallister is with the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He stood at the back of the event as people all around him were protesting the memorial that he has defended publicly for years.

McCallister believes the memorial should stay where it is.

“This is an attack on American history, an attack on American values, trying to destroy it, trying to put it in the closet,” said McCallister.

McCallister rejected calls for the memorial to be moved to local cemeteries where Confederate are buried.

“Because here is where it should stay. Here is where it’s been and here is where it should stay,” said McCallister.

Protesters at the Confederate monument in downtown Tampa.

Follow Jeff Patterson on Facebook

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