Fights and arguments were widespread during a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. Demonstrators were protesting the removal of a Confederate statue.
Tampa’s three major sports franchises — the Lightning, Rays and Buccaneers — and former NFL coach Tony Dungy announced Thursday that they would donate funds toward the removal of a Confederate statue in front of the courthouse in downtown Tampa.
“Recognizing that this monument does not reflect the values of our community, in collaboration with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, our organizations have dedicated funds to assist in moving the statue from the public space in front of the courthouse,” the teams said in a joint news release. “Now more than ever before, we must stand united and committed to diversity and inclusion as we all attempt to heal from the tragedy in Charlottesville.”
The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce said in a statement on Thursday that it will put $70,000 toward the effort to move the “Memoria In Aeterna” obelisk that depicts two Civil War soldiers. The Hillsborough County Commission voted Wednesday to allow the statue’s removal if $140,000 in private money could be raised in 30 days.
“The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce believes in our future and that we are a community on the move that is inclusive and will be in the future,” the Chamber said in a news release.
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Lightning spokesperson Bill Wickett told USA TODAY Sports in an email that the three sports teams “are contributing equally and that we believe the contributions are significant.”
Dungy, a former Buccaneers coach, urged the Bucs to match the $5,000 donation he and his wife pledged for the effort.
A GoFundMe page set up to move the statue had raised more than $50,000 on Thursday afternoon.
Volunteers stood guard near the Tampa statue this week in the wake of the white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. Several Confederate statues around the nation have been vandalized or removed in recent days.