Hillsborough County commissioners met Thursday morning to discuss moving a confederate statue that’s located outside of the Hillsborough County Courthouse which is walking distance from the Tampa Bay Lightning arena.
The statue has been controversial for a while and after changing their minds on the issue three times in the past few months, the commissioners have agreed to move the statue known as Memoria In Aeterna to a private cemetery that belongs to the Brandon family. This comes at a cost; the community will be responsible for raising $140,000 for this to happen, and if it’s achieved, then the commissioners will pay the rest of the $280,000 necessary to move the statue.
When asked about the statue a few months ago, baseball team Tampa Bay Rays spoke out in favor of moving it and the Lightning refused to pick a side.
“We believe this important decision should rest with the county commissioners that have been elected to represent us and our county,” the Lightning organization said in a statement. “We trust these officials to carefully study all considerations necessary as they make their decisions, trusting them to govern Hillsborough County in the best interest of all its people.”
After the events that took place in Charlottesville this past weekend, the Lightning have decided what side they’re on: the one with compassionate and decent human beings. The Lightning, along with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have released a joint statement saying they will donate to help move the statue.
“Recognizing that this monument does not reflect the values of our community, in collaboration with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, our organizations have dedicated funds to assist in moving the statue from the public space in front of the courthouse,” the Rays, Buccaneers and Lightning said in a joint statement Thursday. “Now more than ever before, we must stand united and committed to diversity and inclusion as we all attempt to heal from the tragedy in Charlottesville.”
There is a GoFundMe set up to help collect funds that provides additional detail about the statue and the history behind it.
“Opponents point out that statues like this went up around the country during Southern Reconstruction and weren’t placed in parks or cemeteries. Instead, they were placed prominently in front of courthouses to send a message. And they say that message was that even though the Supreme Court in D.C. had ruled that all were equal under the law, the same people who were lynching people of color yesterday would be overseeing them in court today. Perhaps this is why the state attorney general described African-Americans as “an inferior and ignorant race” in his commencement speech for the statue. “
Fans can’t keep saying politics have no place in sports. We are humans whose jobs, hobbies, and interests will constantly overlap. Worlds keep colliding, and at a time where speaking up is more important than ever, it’s great to see the Lightning take a stance.