Commissioners vote to keep Confederate war memorial in Hillsborough County, add diversity memorial

Posted at 5:24 AM, Jun 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 17:17:36-04

Hillsborough County commissioners voted to keep a Confederate war memorial, but also voted to add another memorial highlighting diversity behind it.

Commissioner Victor Crist pitched an idea of a "mural, bas relief, reflect the beautiful, loving, diversity of all the people that make up our state, our home and the United States of America today."

The new memorial would be put on a wall standing behind the Confederate memorial.

Hillsborough County Commission Chair, Stacey White pushed for the new measures that would protect all veterans memorials, including the statue in front of the old Hillsborough County Courthouse.

Others, including Commissioner Lesley "Les" Miller, wanted it to be removed.

"It sends a bad message, the message that this community still has some serious, serious problems with divisions here. Serious problems with race relations," said Miller after the 4-to-3 vote. 

The statue shows two enlisted soldiers: one facing north headed off to war and the other facing south, coming home, torn and battered. The Daughters of the Confederacy built this statue back in 1911 and it was moved onto public property in the 1950s.

More than 40 speakers crowded the Hillsborough County Commission Board meeting to speak on the issue. 

"The Confederacy fought for the wrong side. We do not erect monuments in favor of those who fought on the wrong side," said Devan Cheaves of Tampa.

"It's a monument of peace. It's a monument of reconciliation," aid Kevin Wright of Tampa. 

RELATED | Amid public outcry, City of Orlando moves Confederate statute

"When you look at this monument, and read the caption and look at the two soldiers, it is clearly a veteran's memorial and this is about veterans really nothing more," Commission White stated.

Others, like Clay Daniels who lives in Tampa, want it removed. "I just think it needs to be removed. The Civil War is over. It's time to move on," Daniels said.

He also said, "...if you keep reminding people, it just rings racial tension in the country."

RELATED | Confederate New Orleans monument comes down

ABC Action News spoke with a U.S. Navy Veteran, Victor McFadden who said, "...just erasing history is not something we should do. We should always remember and try to do better."

Commissioner White told ABC Action News it would cost close to $130,000 to relocate the monument.

Wednesday morning, commissioners will vote Commissioner White's proposal to protect all veterans memorials.