BRADENTON (CBSMiami/AP) — Waving signs against racism, several hundred people protested Monday outside the Manatee County Historic Courthouse in Bradenton demanding the removal of a Confederate monument.
The protest drew a smaller number of people who wanted the monument, now clad in protective plywood, to stay.
Bradenton leaders had the plywood put up around the monument in recent days, after a similar debate in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to a violent white nationalist rally August 12th in which hundreds clashed violently. After authorities had broken up that rally, a car had rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a woman and injuring 19 others.
Monday night activists marched a few blocks from Bradenton’s waterfront to the courthouse plaza, where they gave speeches and chanted.
A handful of people stood in opposition, including a person with a sign with a swastika and others waving a Confederate flag.
“It’s history, get over it,” a white woman hollered.
“It’s still happening,” a black man yelled back.
Critics have called such monuments symbols of white supremacy and racism. Supporters of such monuments say they are reminders of Southern heritage.
Law enforcement stood around the monument during the entire two-hour protest. The monument, which has a Confederate flag etched on one side and the names of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee inscribed on the other sides, was unveiled in June 1924 and sits on public property.
There was a brief tense moment at the end as speakers finished addressing the crowd and participants in the rally against the monument began dispersing. For a moment a handful of black men faced off with people carrying the Confederate flag. Deputies on horseback broke up the two groups and cleared the sidewalk.
The local sheriff’s department and Bradenton police had blocked off streets with heavy vehicles and barricades at nearby intersections as a security measure, preventing anyone from driving into the area. At least 200 law enforcement agents were reported on hand.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)