Tampa pro teams donating money to remove local Confederate monument

In a June 21, 2017 photo, a Confederate statue is seen in a small park in Tampa, Fla. (Tamara Lush/AP)

Tampa’s three professional sports teams are donating money to assist with the removal of a Confederate statue in front of a downtown courthouse.

The NHL’s Lightning, NFL’s Buccaneers and MLB’s Rays all released identical statements Thursday, saying that in light of the race riots in Charlottesville, Va., “we must stand united and committed to diversity and inclusion …”

In a reportedly contentious 4-2 vote, Hillsborough County officials recently permitted a Confederate statue’s transfer to a private cemetery from outside of the public courthouse, but only if $140,000 (all currency U.S.) was raised within 30 days. The Tampa Bay Times reported several elected officials have donated towards the cause, as has former Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy. He and his wife have pledged $5,000. The statue has been in its current location since 1952.

The 106-year-old statue — called Memoria en Aeterna, meaning “in everlasting remembrance” — is a tribute to the soldiers of Confederate states during the American Civil War. The statue depicts a solider carrying his rifle while walking home upon the conclusion of the war. The southern Confederate army lost to its northern Union counterparts and one result was the abolishment of slavery.

The movement in Tampa comes days after violent protests against the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. The rally was attended by white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members and led to the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer.