The private fundraising website created to pay to move a Confederate monument in Hillsborough County saw a surge of contributions over the past 48 hours, but still has only raised a total of $7,025, far short of its $100,000 goal.
Most of the contributions came in after the racially-motivated violence Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Some of the contributions came in after the individual who created the GoFundMe site, attorney Tom Scarritt, made a request Friday morning before a group of politically active citizens preceding Rick Baker’s appearance at Cafe Con Tampa.
“I’ve had people tell me, ‘Well, if you don’t raise the money, the county is just going to pay for it.’ Not true. Not true. It could come back up,” he said on Friday, suggesting that the issue could be reintroduced as a measure to be placed on the 2018 ballot. “Quite frankly if that happens, we will have to deal with this for months and months and months and Tampa will be known nationally and internationally, and not so well,” Scaritt said.
County Commissioner Les Miller says that when the decision was made in July to move the monument, it was explicitly stated that if the GoFundMe site came up short, the county would have to make up the financial difference.
“This whole notion of those who want to keep the monument where it is, and those commissioners who want to ‘put in on the ballot,’ heard the comment made that if not enough money was raised for the GoFundMe page, the county would have to put the money up,” Miller says.
At the last county commission meeting, Victor Crist expressed disappointment that a motion by Sandy Murman to put the issue to a referendum failed because no other commissioners applied.
“I have no intention right now to strike up another fight,” Crist said, “but I wanted to make it clear where I’m at and what I would be willing to do.”
Crist also said at the board’s August 2nd meeting that he would not have voted with the majority to move the monument from its current location in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse Annex on Pierce Street, saying that the Brandon Family Cemetery is not an appropriate location.
Doug Guetzloe, a member of Save Southern Heritage, the advocacy group calling for the monument to remain where it is, says there is now a “push underway to support Sandy Murman’s previous motion now that Crist is back and he has publicly endorsed a referendum.”
Guetzloe said that could come at the board’s first meeting in September.
“At this juncture, I’m okay with moving it,” Crist said on Monday. “There are enough people with deep pockets who said this should move, who can stroke a check, and they need to.”
The push for a referendum comes after a poll released last week showed that a majority of Hillsborough voters would not penalize commissioners who supported keeping the monument in place. A previous poll taken for Save Southern Heritage by Gravis Marketing showed a majority of Hillsborough residents opposed moving the monument.
Last week, members of Save Southern Heritage Florida distributed a spreadsheet of all of those citizens who spoke out against the Confederate monument at their July 19 meeting.
“It’s a really hard core group of social justice warriors and left-wing democratic party activists, mixed in with Socialist-Marxists and Anti-Fa… certainly not mainstream America,” said David McCallister, a spokesman for the group.
That list was referenced Sunday night by activist Ashley Green at the vigil held in Tampa in honor of the victims of Saturday’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“This is the kind of quality classiness that you can expect from defenders of monuments of the Confederacy, and you can believe that they’re working hard to foment the same sentiment here in Tampa that was fomented in Charlottesville yesterday,” Green said.
“Let’s just move on,” says Miller said Monday morning. “Charlottesville was an ugly scene for this country. Let’s put this behind us. Move the monument, and let’s move on to doing the work of Hillsborough County with the transit problems and all the other issues that we have to face today.”