Florida board changes mind, votes to move Civil War monument

One month after deciding not to move a Confederate memorial from public property, a county commission in Florida on Wednesday reversed itself and voted to relocate the monument to a private cemetery.

The Hillsborough County Commission voted 4-2 to remove the 106-year-old monument. During a public comment portion of Wednesday's hearing, many speakers said they favored moving it. They said the statue represents divisiveness and an era of bondage of African-American people.

"This doesn't reflect our values," said Ed Narain, a Democratic state representative from Tampa. "The failure to remove this monument basically signals that we haven't escaped the past."

About 115 people spoke at the meeting, with the majority favoring relocation.

Last month, commissioners voted 4-3 against moving the monument. One commissioner was absent Wednesday.

Commissioner Sandy Murman, who changed her vote, said for her, the central issue was always about the cost of moving the monument.

A Tampa lawyer has volunteered to cover moving expenses, likely to top $100,000. It will be moved to a private family cemetery in the eastern part of Hillsborough County.

"I did not want county tax dollars to go to the relocation of this monument," she said during Wednesday's hearing.

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

The monument sits 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.

The debate over this monument has gone on for months, with proponents and opponents giving impassioned speeches during several meetings. Commissioners report receiving numerous emails from around the country on the topic. One commissioner, Al Higginbotham, said Wednesday that he's received death threats and has been called a "traitor" in some emails for voting to move the monument.