BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) — The death of Snooty, the world’s oldest known manatee who lived in Bradenton, has sparked controversy over where a memorial honoring him should go. One Bradenton man is petitioning for the Confederate statue in front of the courthouse to be moved, and replaced with a statute of Snooty instead.
For decades, the Confederate monument has stood in downtown Bradenton. Many people don’t even recognize it’s there, but it’s offensive to some, including Anthony Pusateri.
“The Confederate army fought for slavery, they fought for bigotry and racism and for me, I’m just not cool with that,” he said.
Pusateri believes in history but says the monument can be admired someplace else.
“Plenty of government buildings all over the nation have removed such statues,” he said. “The federal courthouse in Tampa is also trying to relocate their monument. Why not Bradenton?”
Instead, Pusateri wants Snooty out front of the courthouse.
“Everyone loves Snooty. Especially if you grew up in the area and he is definitely a symbol the whole community can get behind regardless of their political or social agenda,” Pusateri said.
Close to 5,000 people agree with him and have signed his online petition. Those who don’t agree include some who have served our country.
“I don’t find it offensive either. I think they should just grow up it is part of history,” said veteran Curt Baechler.
“If you want to take anything down with the Confederacy, the flag, then let’s take down the Martin Luther King, statutes, the street signs, that’s racism,” veteran Bob Clausen said.
A representative from the county said the monument was placed as a way for family members of fallen civil war soldiers to remember their loved ones. Right now, there are no plans for it to be removed.
But that won’t stop Pusateri.
“I’m going to give the petition until the end of the week and then I will submit it to the county commission, the clerk of the court, Mayor Poston, the city council as well,” he said.
As for a memorial for Snooty, workers at the South Florida Museum are planning something permanent for him. The exact details aren’t certain yet.
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