Wednesday, July 18, 2018
News Roundup

Southern heritage group drops defamation lawsuit against Hillsborough County activists

TAMPA — A Southern heritage group that fought the removal of a local Confederate monument has dropped its defamation lawsuit against local activists who called the organization a white supremacy group.

Attorneys for Save Southern Heritage Inc. filed notice in Hillsborough County court on Monday that it was voluntarily dropping the suit against Democratic Executive Committee chairwoman Ione Townsend, Organize Florida member Tim Heberlein and a third defendant named Kenneth Copenhaver.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Southern heritage group files defamation lawsuit amid Tampa confederate monument controversy (Sept. 1, 2017)

Save Southern Heritage opted to drop the suit mainly as a result of a ruling in a similar case in Tennessee, said David McCallister, a spokesman and attorney for the group.

In that case, a member of a group called the League of the South sued a woman who called him a white supremacist on Facebook. The local circuit court ruled in favor of the plaintiff but an appeals court reversed the decision.

The case "was similar enough that we thought it would probably be used as precedent and we would have less of a chance of success," McCallister said.

The group also has limited resources and wanted to avoid a lengthy court battle, he said.

The suit stemmed from a bitter battle over the removal of a Confederate monument in front of the historic County Courthouse in downtown Tampa.

In August, Save Southern Heritage posted on its website a dossier containing personal information of people who spoke in favor of the monument’s removal during a County Commission meeting. Townsend released a statement from the Democratic Executive Committee calling the move an intimidation tactic and referring to Save Southern Heritage as a "white supremacist group."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Southern Heritage group draws fire for posting personal information of Confederate statue opponents (Aug. 22, 2017)

Also in August, Organize Florida circulated a petition opposing attorney McCallister’s appointment to the county’s Diversity Advisory Council. The petition was titled "Tell Hillsborough County White Supremacists Don’t Represent Us," and asserted that "white supremacists are still being put in positions of power."

Copenhaver was named in the suit for posting on Facebook a letter encouraging the Temple Terrace Golf and Country to refuse to allow Save Southern Heritage to hold a banquet there because the group "creates fear, encourages seeing those holding different views as ‘enemies’ and justifies violent behavior."

Save Southern Heritage members have denied that its members have white supremacist beliefs.

"We were prepared to vigorously defend ourselves, but no one likes to go through a lawsuit, so we’re happy," Townsend said.

Heberlein called the suit an attempt to use the courts "as a tool to silence our voices."

"A lot of people stepped up and spoke out against the lawsuit and the spirt in which it was filed," Heberlein said. "We know in a system that’s rife with white supremacy, this is one small sliver of what a lot of our community goes through on a daily basis."

A county contractor moved the Confederate monument to storage in September with plans to relocate it to a private Brandon cemetery. Still pending is a lawsuit by save Southern Heritage arguing that the County Commission’s vote for the removal was illegal and unconstitutional.

Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

Comments
SEC media days: Why Martez Ivey says this is the year Florida Gators’ offense clicks again

SEC media days: Why Martez Ivey says this is the year Florida Gators’ offense clicks again

ATLANTA — Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey knew the question was coming Tuesday during SEC media days.Is this the year the offense gets cranked up?"This is the only time I'm going to answer this question again," Ivey said. "Thi...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
The Twitter controversy that marred All-Star Game

The Twitter controversy that marred All-Star Game

What had been a three-day feel-good All-Star celebration of baseball ended in some controversy on Tuesday night with Brewers reliever Josh Hader apologizing for a series of tweets from 2011-12 that contained racist, sexist and homophobic comments."Th...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: Brittany Lincicome makes more golfing history; solving crime one app at a time; why is Florida struggling with toxic algae blooms?

The Daystarter: Brittany Lincicome makes more golfing history; solving crime one app at a time; why is Florida struggling with toxic algae blooms?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Rinse and repeat for another hot July day: Overnight showers will hit the coast in the morning and move inland over the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. Isolated ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Residents use technological solution to combat tech-created problem: theft by porch pirates

Residents use technological solution to combat tech-created problem: theft by porch pirates

TAMPA — Four packages landed on the porch of a Palma Ceia home one day last month. Inside were shoes and supplies for a children’s birthday party. At 4:52 p.m. on a Friday, a man in a white hat calmly gathered up the brown boxes.Then he drove away fr...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Where to eat and drink around Safety Harbor: Gigglewaters bar, Parts of Paris, Sno Beach and more

Where to eat and drink around Safety Harbor: Gigglewaters bar, Parts of Paris, Sno Beach and more

Not that many years ago, downtown Safety Harbor was a little lean on places to eat. Green Springs Bistro had been an anchor, Whistle Stop and Cello’s Char House, too. But no one would have called it a dining destination. It was too bad: The city of 1...
Published: 07/18/18
Tampa Bay is a perfect place to make your own food tour. Here are our suggestions.

Tampa Bay is a perfect place to make your own food tour. Here are our suggestions.

There are many good reasons to eat at four or five places in one night. A near overwhelming number of new restaurants in the Tampa Bay area can provoke anxiety in a certain kind of diner, the one who wants to try everything but doesn’t have the funds...
Published: 07/18/18
Eat and drink your way through Tampa Heights with stops at Hall on Franklin, Armature Works and more

Eat and drink your way through Tampa Heights with stops at Hall on Franklin, Armature Works and more

Five or six years ago, if you were to stand on the steps of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and look north along the Hillsborough River, there wouldn’t be much to see. Just a couple of old warehouses and some rubble in the area ...
Published: 07/18/18
In South Tampa, create a dinearound with stops at Bern’s, Haven and the Epicurean Hotel

In South Tampa, create a dinearound with stops at Bern’s, Haven and the Epicurean Hotel

I had a specific vision for my 35th birthday.Relaxation mostly. Bathrobe. Wine. Maybe a massage or a pool. Food, food, food. A handful of close friends. I did some research at beach hotels in Clearwater and St. Pete Beach and found the price range ou...
Published: 07/18/18
Blake Snell settles down after giving up homer in All-Star Game

Blake Snell settles down after giving up homer in All-Star Game

WASHINGTON — Blake Snell's first All-Star experience started with, well, a bang.The first pitch the Rays left-hander threw, a 98 mph fastball, was knocked over the leftfield wall by Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.Snell seemed a bit unsettled in...
Updated: 2 hours ago
MLB commissioner Manfred confident Rays owner is ‘going to get’ stadium deal done

MLB commissioner Manfred confident Rays owner is ‘going to get’ stadium deal done

WASHINGTON – Acknowledging both the challenges and urgency to work out a public-private financing plan, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday expressed extreme confidence in Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg to make a de...
Updated: 4 hours ago