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As one monument is taken apart, Hillsborough commission passes measure to protect others

TAMPA — It took three months of discussion and protests to determine the fate of a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property.

Now, efforts to move or remove such monuments will require a special waiver and a formal public hearing before the Board of County Commissioners.

The Hillsborough County War Veterans' Memorial Protection Ordinance, which passed 4-2 at Thursday's meeting, applies to any monuments to a U.S. president or a military action.

It will be illegal to move or remove those structures without submitting a waiver to the commissioners, which would be presented at a public hearing.

Commissioners Les Miller and Pat Kemp, who were the most vocal advocates to remove the monument by the old county courthouse, voted against the measure. Commissioner Al Higginbotham did not vote.

David McCallister, leader of the Tampa chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans, spoke in favor of the ordinance, saying monuments everywhere were "at risk."

His comments came minutes after he lambasted the commission for relocating the Memoria In Aeterna monument.

He said his 89-year-old mother, a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, told him to scold the board for her.

She "told me to wag my finger at you. So here's the wag," he said, wagging.

Mark Klutho of Largo criticized McCallister and the ordinance, calling it "very unseemly."

"What he wants to do is, he wants inclusion of the Confederates, the people that committed treason," Klutho said of McCallister.

Any "statue, nameplate, plaque, historic flag display, painting, mural" or other artwork is subject to the new rule. The ordinance makes it a second-degree misdemeanor to move, alter or rename it.

But any public or private entity in control of the land where it sits can petition commissioners to waive a monument from the restrictions. The board would consider the exception at a public hearing, and could attach conditions to the petition or deny it outright.

Already exempt from the ordinance is the Confederate monument by the old courthouse. As commissioners debated, workers less than 400 feet away were preparing to remove a portion of its most prominent feature: a 32-foot-tall marble obelisk. About 20 minutes after the commission vote, the crew used a forklift to gently lift off the roughly 15-foot top half of the obelisk.

On Tuesday, workers used stone saws and a fork lift to detach and remove the two marble Confederate soldiers that stood on either side of the obelisk and placed them on a waiting flatbed trailer.

Next, they removed the obelisk and a historical marker.

The remaining work — the pedestal and steps — will be removed next week, after Irma has passed by.

All told, the monument will be dismantled into 26 pieces and trucked to a storage center to be cleaned, inspected and repaired if necessary. The county's current timetable calls for the monument to be reassembled in a cemetery owned by the Brandon family, namesakes of the suburb east of Tampa, by mid November.

Staff writer Tony Marrero contributed to this report. Contact Langston Taylor at [email protected] Follow @langstonitaylor.

As one monument is taken apart, Hillsborough commission passes measure to protect others 09/07/17 [Last modified: Thursday, September 7, 2017 9:10pm]
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