TAMPA (FOX 13) - The United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a monument outside the old Tampa courthouse all the way back in 1911. Now, that statue has triggered a firestorm, and the Florida president of the UDC says she favors moving Confederate monuments off of government land in the interest of bringing people together.
Ginger Rudiger, the president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy Florida Division, said she is not authorized to speak for the group. But she agreed to share her own opinions in an interview with FOX 13.
“Remove them (Confederate monuments) from public display of places and put them in cemeteries or let them be moved to veterans’ parks, or private parks or private lands. I'm all for that," said Rudiger. “If it’s on public property and because of the issue of slavery, and because we've had so many years in our country of unfairness in this country to minority groups, why not relocate these to places where they can be given the respect they deserve for veteran service?”
Rudiger acknowledges southern states’ declarations of secession, which note slavery as a driving cause of their rebellion, and Alexander Stephens’ cornerstone speech, which also framed the Confederate cause on slavery.
As she sees it, the Confederate monuments honor rank-and-file soldiers who were generally poor and may not have known their leaders framed the war around slavery.
"They had to feed their families...They didn't fight to keep slaves. They didn't have slaves," she noted. "And maybe all you saw was a flyer: ‘Come and support the South.’”
Last month, the Hillsborough County Commission voted to keep the Tampa monument in place. But they've decided to revisit the issue at their meeting on Wednesday. Commissioner Les Miller wants the county to give the monument back to the United Daughters of the Confederacy for that group to relocate it.
Rudiger says she understands how the monuments can remind others of slavery and white supremacy. With that in mind, she’s all for moving the monuments to places like private cemeteries.
On a separate note, Rudiger also said people should not be displaying or wearing the rebel battle flag on commercial merchandise, because she says it’s disrespectful.
"The only place that ever deserves to be flown is at the headstone of a Confederate veteran," she said. "It doesn't belong on the back of your pickup truck."