Hundreds rally throughout Tampa for Charlottesville victims

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A vigil and rally in support of the victims of violence in Charlottesville was held in downtown Tampa on Sunday.

The deadly incident hit close to home for Kim Norwood.

“I lived in Charlottesville for about two years, so the downtown mall, all those places there, I walked those places," said Norwood.

Norwood said seeing neo-Nazi groups take to the same streets she once frequented was upsetting. She said hate groups are not a representation of her former home. Many Tampa residents, who have never visited the city, wanted to show that there's no room for hate in every city across the nation.

“I’m glad to see all these people standing here and showing that we’re tired of the hate, and we’re going to stand up," said Norwood.

After several speakers condemned the violence in Charlottesville, the crowd took to Kennedy Boulevard to march in unity.

“We are here to fight for equality, justice for our rights," said Phyliss Lewis.

Lewis said she has lived in Tampa for more than 60 years. She grew up in the city when it was still segregated, including her school, Tampa Tech.

“We had to have black and white bathrooms. I remember when we couldn’t go to the Cuban restaurant, because they didn’t allow blacks in it," said Lewis.

Lewis said seeing hate groups reunite sets the country back. She and many others at Sunday's event used it as an opportunity to speak out against the confederate statue across the street from the rally, in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse.

County Commissioners voted in June to move the statue to a cemetery in Brandon.

“I don’t even think it should be in a graveyard somewhere. I think they should put them in a museum somewhere, and whoever wants to see them can see them,” said Lewis.
Not everyone agrees.

David McAllister, leader of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, came out to the rally to monitor the monument.

“Cherishing history is not taking down monuments. Its not exploiting monuments one side or the other,” said McAllister.

He said he disagrees with hate groups who use confederate symbols to back their beliefs.

“I condemn those people just as much as I condemn Antifa, and Black Lives Matter. They’re both being misled and misguided by the wrong people,” said McAllister.

Hundreds of people ended Sunday’s march by swarming the Confederate statue and chanting against racism.

“I believe those monuments were built in the 1920’s when it was still OK to be mean and angry, and OK to do the things that they did to people of color and anybody else. It’s just wrong,” said Melanie Norwood.
Similar vigils in solidarity with Charlottesville were held in Pinellas and Pasco Counties.