The Rays want the City of Tampa to get rid of a monument to slavery and loss.
Currently, the 106-year-old monument sits outside the Hillsborough County courthouse. But County Commissioner Les Miller said he has recently see a “major groundswell of people who want it removed.” That now includes the Rays and Tampa Bay Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
“We understand and believe that these decisions belong in the hands of elected officials,” the team said in a statement sent to the Tampa Bay Times. “At the same time, we are supportive of its removal from the courthouse.”
The monument, “Memoria in Aeterna,” honors the soldiers of the Confederate States of America, according to the Historical Marker Database. Last month, county commissioners decided, 4-3, to keep the monument. But Miller said he plans to ask his colleagues again to remove the monument when they are set to meet July 19.
During the monument’s dedication in 1911 to a crowd of 5,000, the keynote speaker called blacks “an ignorant and inferior race,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“There have been people that said it’s a slap in the face to everyone,” Miller told the publication. “To put a mural showing diversity behind a monument constructed in 1911 and the person made the comments that blacks were inferior, that does not make any sense at all.”
The Rays are considering moving from their current location in St. Petersburg to Tampa, and the monument’s removal could sway their decision. Part of the team’s criteria is choosing a site with “iconic elements that positively impact the ballpark brand, the brand of the team and the image of the region.”
A monument to racism is not part of that image, the team has decided.