Battle over moving Confederate statue in Tampa

Battle over moving Confederate statue in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The battle over whether to move Confederate memorials has come to another Southern U.S. city, this one in Florida.

On Wednesday morning, the Hillsborough County Commission started discussing whether to move a statue that was erected in Tampa in 1911 in front of the county courthouse. Commissioner Les Miller has called for its removal.

Commission chambers were packed, with several people holding signs that said, "Americans build monuments we don't remove them!"

Emotions were already running high as debate got underway. A woman with an American flag slung over her body like a sash spoke during public comment and played a music video showing various monuments around the country.

Commission chair Stacy White implored people in the audience to be polite.

"This is obviously a contentious issue," said White. "I'm going to have zero tolerance for outbursts. If this continues I'm going to begin to ask security and law enforcement staff. Let's have civil discourse today. That's something that's lacking across this entire country."

Advocates of Southern heritage say removing these symbols is a disservice to the men who fought in the Civil War.

The monument is in front of a county building that contains administrative offices and traffic court. Facing north, the statue depicts a proud and young Confederate soldier, while facing south, a battered and weary soldier in tattered clothing plods along.

Miller, who is an Air Force veteran, has been compared to the Islamic State for wanting to remove the statue.

One speaker said the desire to move the monuments is a "crazed obsession by radical leftists."

About 75 miles to the northeast, city workers in Orlando on Tuesday started moving a Confederate statue called "Johnny Reb" from a park in the heart of downtown to a nearby cemetery, following renewed public outcry that it's a symbol of racism and white supremacy.

Associated Press 2017