TAMPA, Fla. - Work crews spent their afternoon, in the blistering heat, at the Hillsborough County Clerk of Courts building drilling holes into a marble statue to determine how structurally sound it is, and how difficult it will be to move.
“I am for the appreciation for all our history for tolerance and respect,” David McCallister said. McCallister is the spokesperson for the group Save Southern Heritage. He says the statue needs to stay where it is to honor America’s past.
“We want monuments to what happened in the South,” McCallister said. “Look at the monument itself the soldier marches off to war proud.”
ABC Action News spoke with a man standing guard overnight at the statue. George Freeman is part of the Confederate Regulators. He said his group is about protecting the history behind the monument.
"We are here as Americans protecting history. If you take these monuments down... there are no to monuments to teach our kids what they mean," said Freeman.
The county initially allowed a two month period to figure out the best way to move the statue. But, following the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia the process to move the marble monument appears to have been moved up. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn saying the “monument needs to be moved ASAP.”
The monument was moved to the spot in front of the courthouse in 1952.
“It definitely has to be removed,” Ray Arsenault said. Arsenault is a John hope Franklin Professor of Southern History at USF St. Petersburg.
“Think about it. If you went to Germany today and you found nazi statutes out in front of the courthouses and public buildings what would you think? It would be outrageous.”
On Wednesday, Hillsborough County Commissioners will be discussing the fate of the statue again.
One of the discussion items on the agenda is to,”direct staff to advertise and set a public hearing for September 7, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. to consider enactment of an ordinance to be cited as the Hillsborough County War Veterans' Memorial Protection Ordinance pertaining to the protection of monuments and memorials erected to honor war veterans or the conflicts they fought in. This action will have no significant impact on County finances.”