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Some Hillsborough citizens already fighting possible removal of Confederate statue at courthouse

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

In the wake of southern cities like New Orleans, Gainesville and Orlando removing Confederate monuments, Hillsborough County Commission Chair Les Miller is poised to make a proposal this week calling for removing a Confederate statue outside of the Hillsborough County Courthouse.

The idea comes two years after the board voted to remove the Third National Flag of the Confederacy from the County Center.

But opposition is forming, even though Miller has yet to make a formal proposal to the BOCC.

“We will be providing significant opposition to this effort,” says David McCallister with the group Save Southern Heritage. “Enough is Enough! Americans were aghast and appalled at the erase-ism of American History in New Orleans … and we are not going to stand for it here. It’s time to put the breaks on this dangerous movement to dismantle the foundations of our great nation by disrespecting her veterans of yesteryear.”

McCallister is a frequent presence at county commission meetings, where he often speaks before the board on the importance of protecting Southern heritage. He is with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the group that is responsible for what supporters say is the biggest Confederate flag in the world that flies at the intersection of I-75 and I-4 in East Tampa.

Two years ago, the Hillsborough Commission supported a proposal by Miller to move the Third National Flag of the Confederacy from the County Center. That took place shortly after the brutal racist killings in Charleston, South Carolina, where Dylann Roof killed nine back people in a church and was pictured holding the Confederate flag before the killings.

“It’s divisive,” Miller told WFLA News Channel 8 last week of the statue at the courthouse. “It’s something that people think it’s time for it to come down, just like the ones that came down in New Orleans and the flags we took down in the county center, they feel it’s time for them to come down.

McAllister has also put up a petition at Change.org targeting the six other members of the BOCC to oppose it when Miller introduces the proposal.

“In an ‘ISIS’-like purge, New Orleans has ripped down its most prominent War Memorials, and they are falling like dominoes … Orlando, Gainesville and how here,” writes McCallister on the petition.

County Commissioner Sandy Murman says she’s received lots of feedback from the community about the idea of removing the statue, mostly critical of the idea.

“We’re getting some a lot of very high emotional emails and phone calls to leave it where it is,” Murman said on Monday.

She went on to say that if there is a “well thought out plan” on where to move the statue, “I’m sure the commission will probably support it.”

Murman then amended that comment, saying that she didn’t want to speak for her colleagues, and will just want to “wait and see” about what Miller proposes.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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