Controversy, emotions run high at commission meeting
Wednesday, 04 Jun 2008
TAMPA – To some, it’s a symbol of hate and slavery — to others, it’s all about Southern pride and heritage.
Clutching a noose and pictures of lynchings, Marsha Weaver was first in front of the Hillsborough Commissioners Wednesday.
"That flag will not hang," she said. "We need more people to start standing up and fighting."
Phil Walters of the Sons of the Confederacy put it another way.
"I’m offended that our veterans are disrespected, called traitors," he said.
While Commissioner Rose Ferlita said the controversy has already done damage.
"We already see what this has done in terms of fragmenting our community".
It is a rare day indeed when Rose Ferlita agrees with Commissioner Jim Norman.
"The Civil War is part of our history and that’s where it belongs, in the history books," Norman said. "Maybe there’s a way that both sides can talk, because we don’t need to refight this battle and bring up old wounds."
Years ago, the Confederate Flag was taken off the Hillsborough County seal. The compromise was that the flag was put up in the County Center.
But its unlikely this compromise will sail this time. Says Marion Lambert, "we have attorneys, the ACLU is even involved in this thing."
There were suggestions to fly an American flag as an alternate, but — no sale.
"It’s a veterans monument to the southern veterans, and they were fighting against the American flag at that time," said Phil Walters.
Marsha Weaver worries about the area’s image.
"Next year, the Superbowl is going to be here. How many black NFL players do we have, how many hispanic, latino players? How do you think they’re going to feel driving into Tampa seeing that big ole flag?"
Weaver says that she hopes by the time her 3-year-old daughter can understand all this, the flag will be gone. To which the sons and daughers say, "don’t count on it."
The sons and daughters say they hope to have the flag up 24/7 within the next 30 days