Rumored rally at Confederate statue sparks police presence

County employees sent home early as precaution
Posted at 11:44 PM, Aug 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-19 00:20:00-04

Online rumors promoting a rally at a Confederate monument sparked a heavy police presence Friday night in downtown Brooksville.

"We want to live in peace here. We are a sleepy little town," said downtown shop owner Debra Davis.

Brooksville Police and Hernando Sheriff's deputies stood guard along two corners on Main Street.

Officials placed several barricades around the Confederate soldier statue to block it off from the public.

"I think it's proactive on Brooksville and Hernando county to do this so that we don't have the types of violence that they had," said Davis.

All for a Confederate statue that stands silent, but speaks to a fiery debate playing out across the south.

The statue sits outside the Hernando County courthouse downtown, located at 20 N. Main St.

"If the citizens of Brooksville want to have an active debate on whether or not this statue is, then let's have that active debate, peacefully," said resident Jason Sager.

Social media posts surfaced this week calling for a rally outside the Hernando County courthouse.

Local law enforcement officers said they followed online chatter from both supporters of the statue and those who oppose it.

"Our whole focus here is to be safe and have no one hurt and no property damaged," said Brooksville Police Chief George Turner. "We're prepared for whatever does happen. We hope that it's just a peacekeeping, keeping everybody orderly and respectful of each others rights."

County officials sent courthouse employees home early Friday, "Based on briefings with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office about the potential demonstration proposed… and in an abundance of caution, County Administration sent home Board of County Commissioners' employees located in the Government Center/Courthouse and Brooksville Main Library," said Virginia Singer, Public Information Manager for Hernando County.

A Back to School Bash event scheduled for Friday afternoon at a nearby park was also cancelled.

Police believe rain likely put a stop to a rumored 4 p.m. demonstration. Once the skies cleared, a handful of residents waving the Confederate flag stood outside the barricaded monument.

There was no organized group present in favor of removing the statue.

"If they want to remove this monument, then let's go through that building, let's go through the county commission, let's vote," said Sager. "Now is not the time to attack one another, now is the time that we have to look like a community, a peaceful community."