Hillsborough Co. Center Confederate flag to be moved to History Center

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Hillsborough County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to remove the Confederate flag displayed in the County Center lobby and move it to the Tampa Bay History Center.

The passionate debate took place during a regularly scheduled board meeting.

"I'm emotional because I know what the flag means to me and what it meant to my family and others that had to see this flag," Commissioner Les Miller said as he wiped away tears.

Miller proposed the motion to take down the entire five-flag display inside the Fred B. Karl County Center lobby, which includes the Confederate flag and the flags of the U.S., Spain, France and Great Britain. Each of the flags once flew over Hillsborough County.

The display went up in 1994 as a compromise when commissioners voted to remove the Confederate symbol from the county seal.

Miller said the Confederate flag represents "hatred" and "discrimination" and believes it doesn't belong in a government building.

Following public comment, which saw essentially a split among speakers, the board took up the issue.

Commissioner Stacy White, who initially wanted the issue placed on the November 2016 ballot for voters to decide, stood firm in his opposition to removing the flag.

"These things will do nothing to stop hatred and violence in our country but they seem to be the politically expedient thing to do," White said.

But each other commissioner came out in favor of the motion.

"Everything that that flag has ever represented, represents some type of a division," said Commissioner Kevin Beckner.

"While Confederate flag represents heritage to some, it symbolizes oppression, abuse and enslavement to others," Commissioner Ken Hagan added.

In the end, although he still disagreed with the decision, White voted with the majority.

"Was I shocked [the motion passed unanimously]? Yeah, I was," Miller said afterward. "It shows that we can all work together. It wasn't a fight. It was just a debate."

The entire flag display will come down at noon on Thursday