Manatee Co. commissioners pass motion to move Confederate monument from courthouse

Manatee Co. Commissioner

BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) — Manatee County commissioners have decided to move a confederate monument that’s currently near the courthouse.

The monument has been in downtown Bradenton since 1924 but will soon be moved away.

After much debate, commissioners voted 4-3 to relocate the monument to an equally prominent location.

“I really think we need to take this down a thousand and that’s our job…just try to diffuse this issue,” said Commissioner Betsy Benac.

The county will first need to raise roughly $12,000 for its removal. Then they will hold public comment to decide where they will place it.

Monday’s rally led to three arrests and cost the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office nearly $30,000 in extra costs. Organizers said at least five more protests were planned. Commissioners felt they had their hands tied.

“I don’t appreciate being bullied,” said Commissioner Carol Whitmore.

The issue was not even scheduled on the agenda today but commissioners spent hours on it. And people from the public had a lot to say.

“What is next? And how do we stop those threats of violence? Do we continue to cave to them because it costs so much money?” asked one Confederate monument supporter

“All across this nation, veterans memorials such as the one we have here in Bradenton have been under attack, have been used by vandals as billboards for social protest and political agenda,” said monument supporter David West.

“We have the opportunity to begin showing that we are better than our past. Will we continue to make the mistakes of our past or will we finally take steps toward healing hearts by relocating the Confederate iconography that has been embraced by white nationalists?” said one person against the monument.

Commissioners felt it was important to preserve the monument and place it in a prominent location for it to be displayed.

“The statue, whether you like it or not, is history and you can’t change history. And I’m not gonna try to lose that history because there’s a lot to be learned from it,” said Commissioner Vanessa Baugh.

Commissioner Charles Smith put up the first donation of $500 toward relocating the monument.

Manatee Co. Commissioner

“Write your check. Let’s raise this money to remove this monument so that there won’t be an excuse,” he said.

It’s unclear at this time where the statue will go. Commissioners had suggested locations like the Gamble Plantation and Veterans Park at the Bradenton Riverwalk. But one thing is certain – its days downtown are numbered.

Gregory Cruz with Black Lives Matter Tampa is one of the organizers of Monday’s rally. He is happy with the news.

“It’s great that they did that. That was the whole point of this entire thing. But at the same time let’s not be fooled and think racism will end. This is a course in the right direction. It’s cool to have a small victory,” said Cruz.

He said with the new development, he does not plan to hold a rally on Monday. Instead, they will hold a celebration.

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