After vote to move Tampa's Confederate monument, two Hillsborough commissioners had car tires punctured
TAMPA -- Two Hillsborough County commissioners said their cars were vandalized in the days since a contentious vote on whether to remove Tampa’s Confederate monument.
Commissioner Victor Crist he had two flat tires this weekend, he told his colleagues during Wednesday’s meeting, and he suggested that it was related to the county’s debate on Memoria en Aeterna, a 106-year-old Confederate statue in downtown Tampa.
“In 26 years as a public servant, I’ve had a lot of tough issues,” Crist said. “But the meanness, the anger, the hatred, the fighting, the discontent, on both sides, is unprecedented.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner Sandy Murman told the Tampa Bay Times that two tires on her car had nails driven into the side of them this weekend. She had to replace both.
Murman spoke with authorities about the incident on Wednesday.
Neither opined who, or which side, may have been the culprit.
“It is what it is,” Murman said. “I don’t want to draw any conclusions.”
Commissioners voted 4-2 on July 19 to move the monument to the cemetery owned by the Brandon family, the namesake of the east Hillsborough suburb. The site contains the grave of a Confederate veteran as well as a monument maintained by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The vote reversed a 4-3 decision in June not to move the monument. In the weeks after, Crist and Murman emerged as two potential swing votes who could change the outcome when Commissioner Les Miller called for a revote.
Crist ultimately missed the meeting because he was in California to attend a family wedding and reunion, though before leaving he said he would consider moving it to a private cemetery. He said Wednesday he wouldn’t have voted for the Brandon site, preferring a Lutz cemetery instead.
Murman’s vote in support of relocating the statue to Brandon ultimately proved to be the determining factor. Her change of heart came, in part, because someone said they would raise private funds to move it.
During the debate, commissioners said they received nasty and hateful emails from both sides of the debate. Murman at one point suggested the county should fund an education program to address what she identified as a racism problem in the community.
Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who supported relocating the monument, said before the vote that he recieved emails that called him "a communist who supported thug-killing police," that called Miller a racist, that suggested a Klu Klux Klan rally, and that said he will be "dealt with" and to "sleep well, you traitor." Higginbotham forwarded the threat to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.