Tampa mayor says Confederate statue should go

- The decision by the Hillsborough County Commission to leave standing a Confederate statue outside the old county courthouse isn't sitting well with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who ripped commissioners Thursday.

In a 4-3 vote Wednesday, commissioners decided not to remove the Confederate memorial. A day later, Buckhorn made it clear he feels any outrage should be directed at the county.

"I was really disappointed. There is no honor in treason and there is no valor in enslaving people because of their race," the mayor told reporters following an unrelated event in Tampa. "That Confederate statue needs to come down. It doesn't represent who we are as a community. It certainly doesn't represent the city that I represent. I think those days and that dark chapter, we need to put them away and move forward because that's not who the City of Tampa is."

Commissioner Les Miller proposed removing the statue and had similar sentiments after the meeting.

"It sends a message that this community still has some serious, serious problems with divisions, serious, serious problems with race relations," Miller said.

Phil Walter, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who defended that statue at Wednesday's meeting, said the mayor's comments are out of line.

"I'm very disappointed when our leaders act like morons. That is how we get discourse throughout our community," Walter said. "Our monuments to our American war veterans should be left alone. That monument does not represent slavery, never has... How are you to learn your history and not repeat these human events if you're taking your history down and hiding it from public view?"

The four commissioners who voted to leave the statue in place decided, as a compromise, to add a mural depicting the county's diversity. Miller called that decision "awkward."

This is not the first time the mayor has ripped county commissioners for a decision he viewed as detrimental to the city. Last year Buckhorn butted heads with commissioners who didn't support his mass transportation plan.

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