'We're going to move' Tampa's Confederate monument, Hillsborough Commissioner Crist says
TAMPA — Once in favor of keeping Tampa's Confederate monument where it is, Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist now says its likely that it will be moved from its downtown location.
Where it will end up remains up in the air. But during an appearance Thursday on WMNF-FM 88.5, Crist said he expects the commission will soon find a new home for it.
"It's realistic to say we're going to move this," Crist told reporter and WMNF show host Mitch Perry. "There are too many people out there that see pain and suffering when they look at this and the board is receptive and sensitive to that."
Commissioners voted 4-3 last month not to remove the monument from outside the old Hillsborough County courthouse in downtown Tampa. However, Commissioner Les Miller has said he intends to force another vote when commissioners next meet on Wednesday.
What's changed in the weeks since the vote? Crist said he has always been willing to consider relocation but there was no plan for where it to put it. He didn't want to see it destroyed or stored, claiming that was the alternative.
While it's true Miller did not have a specific location in mind for the monument — his preferred destination, the Tampa Bay History Center said it couldn't accomodate the monument — he propsed it be returned it to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The organization paid to erect the statue in 1911.
Two options floated by Crist, city-owned Oaklawn and Woodlawn cemeteries, were rejected by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, he said. He has reached out to about two dozen other potential locations.
"We’re going to find a site to relocate it, one that is off the beaten trail and is in a location where if you don’t want to see it, you don’t have to," Crist said. "But if you do want to see it, you can certainly find it."
But there's another complication in what has already been a contentious and arduous debate. Crist said he can't make Wednesday's meeting and has asked commissioners to hold off on voting again until August.
He added it may be one or two months until commissioners find a suitible home for the monument.
If Crist flips and the other commissioners in favor of removal — Miller, Pat Kemp and Al Higginbotham — support the new site, that's enough votes to have the monument removed.
Commissioners Ken Hagan, Sandy Murman and Stacy White voted against removal last month.