ST. PETERSBURG — A new monument honoring the achievements of the Courageous 12 — a group of Black police officers who won a discrimination lawsuit in the 1960s — is set to be installed at the site of the city’s old police headquarters, according to a news release by city officials.
The monument, which is included in EDGE Central Development Partner’s bid to build a mixed-use development at the old police station site at 1300 First Ave. N, would follow a plaque the city installed in October, inside the lobby of the new police headquarters across the street. At the time, some felt a plaque wasn’t enough.
Both the plaque and proposed monument honor the legacies of the 12 police officers who filed the lawsuit in 1965: Leon Jackson, Freddie Lee Crawford, Adam Baker, Raymond DeLoach, Charles Hollands, Robert Keys, Primus Killen, James King, Johnnie B. Lewis, Horace Nero, Jerry Styles and Nathaniel Wooten.
Among their complaints was that Black officers could not patrol white neighborhoods, could not use the same locker room or patrol vehicles as their white colleagues, had little upward mobility in the department and could not drink from the water fountain near the department’s front desk.
The men had to take out a bank loan to file their suit, which was dismissed by a federal judge in 1966. However, on Aug. 1, 1968, a federal appeals court sided with the Courageous 12. The victory against discrimination went beyond St. Petersburg, setting a precedent for minorities serving in law enforcement agencies across the nation.
“We did something for ourselves. The by-product is, we made history,” Jackson said in the release.
St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, who is Black, credited the Courageous 12 with opening the door for people of all colors to hold leadership positions within the department.
“Thanks to their efforts, today we have an agency that reflects the diversity of our community,” Holloway said in the news release. “This monument will ensure that their sacrifices will never be forgotten.”
The monument is part of a development agreement with EDGE Central that Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration is set to put before City Council next Thursday for approval. The project is set to include workforce and market-rate housing, office space, retail and a parking garage. Demolition is to begin in 2021.
“The Courageous 12 made our police department and our entire city a better and fairer place, and it is an honor for me to help ensure they are properly honored and remembered for as long as the sun shines on our great city,” Kriseman said.