Florida Council of Churches protests Tampa Confederate monument

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Council of Churches gathered with protesters in an effort to remove a Confederate monument at the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in downtown Tampa. 

It was the first of three rallies in an effort to get the statue taken down from its current location near the corner of Kennedy and Madison.

The Hillsborough County Commission recently voted 4-3 to keep the statue exactly where it is. But, the crowd at Monday’s rally wanted to send a message to commissioners after last month’s vote.

Rev. Dr. Russell Meyer is the executive director for the Florida Council of Churches.

“Lady Justice belongs here, not this,” he told News Channel 8.

He explained why members of his group are protesting the monument.

“What it means to me is the community is coming together saying ‘we want a new future. We don’t want to live in an old past.’ The Bible says ‘you shall reap what you sow.’ We want to sow a future of inclusion, equality, justice, fairness and prosperity for all.”

Across the south, from Virginia to New Orleans, Orlando and now Gainesville, local governments are voting to remove statues and memorials to the Confederacy.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller believes it’s time this Confederate statue is removed as well.

“It’s divisive. It’s something that people think it’s time for it to come down, just like the ones that came down in New Orleans and the flags we took down in the county center, they feel it’s time for them to come down,” said Miller.

The statue was first dedicated in Tampa in 1911.  Miller said people from all over the county have emailed his office asking why it is still standing.

David McCallister, with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, believes the statue should remain exactly where it is.

“We are part, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, are part of the diversity of Hillsborough County and deserve to have our culture recognized and our history and heritage recognized just as anybody else would,” said McCallister.

He also believes people who want it removed are trying to erase history.

“It’s a monument to the heroism of the local men that served in the Confederate armies. So, it’s a monument to veterans,” said McCallister.

Commissioner Miller said the monument stands for hatred.

“If it’s history, put it in a museum,” said Miller.

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