MANATEE COUNTY, FL (Aug. 24, 2017) – Crews removed the Confederate monument from the Historic Courthouse grounds today, working during the early hours of the morning to avoid foot traffic at the Courthouse and to prevent major traffic disruptions in downtown Bradenton.
After lengthy public debates over the past week, County Commissioners voted on Tuesday to remove the monument until a decision can be reached on a prominent, respectful relocation site.
Commissioners reached that conclusion based “on the concerns for public safety of the citizens of Manatee County” since the monument had become the focal point of an intense community debate.
During last night’s relocation, crews discovered that the approximately 22-foot, 8.5-ton granite monument was an even greater public safety risk than suspected.
After carefully securing the spire with lifting straps at 3:30 a.m., a crane slowly applied pressure to tighten the straps. As pressure was applied, it became evident that the spire was not completely attached to the base of the monument. The spire shifted in the straps and quickly fell to the ground and broke in two pieces. (View footage from last night’s operation on the County’s YouTube channel.)
The shaft’s easy separation from the base was a sign that the monument was a potential hazard before the move began and could have toppled in a strong storm or if it had been pushed or pulled at the right point.
“We took every safety precaution to respectfully move this to a safe location,” said Property Management Director Charlie Bishop, whose department worked with a local contractor that has extensive experience moving heavy objects. “Thankfully no one was hurt when the spire came down. We’re confident that it can be fully repaired and safely placed in a permanent location once the location is determined.”
The monument was taken to a secure, undisclosed location in the county.
As part of their decision Tuesday, Commissioners decided that the public will be fully involved in the discussion and determination for “an equally prominent and respectful replacement location.” During that process, the County plans to hire a structural engineer to evaluate the monument’s structural integrity and to design the foundation and repairs so it can be safely placed on a permanent spot in the future.
For more information on Manatee County Government, visit online at www.mymanatee.org or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manatee.county.fl and on Twitter, @ManateeGov.