Advertisement
  1. News

Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.
Published Aug. 20, 2017

TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

The groups — Save Southern Heritage, Veterans' Monuments of America and the United Daughters of the Confederacy — contend that the decision to move the statue from the old Hillsborough County courthouse is unconstitutional and that the County Commission failed to follow its own laws in voting to do so.

Commissioners voted last month 4-2 to relocate the 106-year-old statue, called Memoria en Aeterna, to a small family cemetery in Brandon.

On Wednesday, commissioners added a caveat that the county would not pay for the $140,000 move and told private citizens they had 30 days to raise the money themselves. Citizens raised the needed funds by the next day, and the county placed boards around the statue.

The lawsuit, which asks for an injunction to temporarily prevent any move, says that the decision to move the statue restricts people's First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit also says that commissioners voted to move the statue and not an accompanying plaque. The suit says the plaque should be kept in place.

Rumors about a possible lawsuit were already swirling before it was official.

In response, Hillsborough County Attorney Chip Fletcher said, "We're very comfortable that all the actions that the board has made are fully legal."

Leaders in the black and religious communities say the Confederate monument is a reminder of the South's fight to preserve slavery.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy raised $3,000 to erect the monument in 1911.

At the dedication of the statue, then-State Attorney Herbert Phillips called African-Americans an "ignorant and inferior race."

The monument was moved to outside the old county courthouse in 1952. The building is now an office that houses traffic court and conducts weddings.

Times Staff Writer Steve Contorno contributed to this report. Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Officers arrived and helped treat the wounded man. Then he was rushed to a hospital.
  2. The Pinellas County Commission moved closer Tuesday to granting a total of $20.6 million to three museums: the Salvidor Dali Museum (top), the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center (bottom left), and the St. Petersburg Museum of History. Photos courtesy of Pinellas County
    The Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg Museum of History and Tampa Bay Watch are on track to receive bed tax dollars for expansions.
  3. West Port Colony apartments in St. Petersburg C2 Design Group Inc, Chris Stevens
    The complex off Fourth Street N is convenient to both Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg.
  4. According to a forecast by PNC, business leaders feel sunny about the coming six months.
  5. Lithia Motors Inc. has acquired three dealerships from the Williams Automotive Group including Wesley Chapel Toyota near the Interstate 75 and State Road 54 interchange in Wesley Chapel. [Times (2007]
    Wesley Chapel Toyota, Wesley Chapel Honda and Tampa Honda dealerships change hands
  6. Sen. Travis Hutson presents his Job Growth Grant Fund legislation to the Senate Education Committee on Nov. 12, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The original version would have targeted charter schools only.
  7. Left: A burned Ford Taurus, found near Key Vista Nature Park, pictured in the Pasco County Sheriff's Office's forensics building. Right: 21-year-old Michael Psilakis, of Hudson, is accused of killing the unidentified man whose body was found in the car. Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    Michael Psilakis, of Hudson, faces first-degree murder and other charges. The victim has not been identified.
  8. A flag supporting President Donald Trump flutters near the University of Florida's Century Tower before an Oct. 10 appearance on campus by Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle. A controversy over the political nature of the event has led to calls for the impeachment of Student Body President Michael C. Murphy, who helped set it up. Courtesy of Chris Day
    A push to oust Student Body President Michael Murphy comes after an email surfaces, suggesting he worked with the Trump campaign to bring a political speech to campus.
  9. Tampa-based consumer data company Bridge is working to solve a specialty retailing problem that goes back to the end of Prohibition, and it’s getting help from venture capitalists at Florida Funders.
    Bridge specializes in providing detailed consumer data that helps producers of liquor, beer and wine target their advertising.
  10. Jacob "Jake" Weinert, 28, seen here holding his son Jasper in 2018, was killed Tuesday morning when a pickup truck struck him from him behind while he was riding on U.S. 301 in Tampa, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Courtesy Izabel Sgie
    Jacob Weinert, a 28-year-old father of two, was struck by a pickup near Sligh Avenue, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement