Save Southern Heritage drops lawsuit against Hillsborough activists over Confederate monument flap

A lawsuit filed in September is a no-go.

After the events in Charlottesville in August, activists protest at the site of the Confederate monument, which has since been removed. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
After the events in Charlottesville in August, activists protest at the site of the Confederate monument, which has since been removed.

Nearly two months to the day after they filed suit, Save Southern Heritage voluntarily withdrew its defamation case against a progressive group and one of its leaders.

On Sept. 1, Save Southern Heritage, a pro-Confederate monument group based in Hillsborough County, filed suit against the group Organize Florida, Tim Heberlein, director of Organize Florida's Tampa Bay office, and Ione Townshend, head of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee. The suit claimed that by calling SSH a "white supremacist group," they were defaming the group and its members.

Heberlein posted an image of the court document, a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal Without Prejudice, on Facebook Tuesday.

"I'm so proud of the members, allies and community members that stood strong against bigotry and hatred. While the lawsuit has been withdrawn, it's a very small example of the daily struggle our communities deal with in a system of injustice and inequity rooted in white supremacy," Heberlein said in the post.

The plaintiffs reportedly decided to drop the case after an appeals court in a similar case in Tennessee ruled in favor of the defendant, a woman accused of defaming another pro-Confederate monument group.

The latest move in a way closes a chapter in the battle over Confederate monuments across the South, especially in Hillsborough County, where, after spirited debate and multiple contradictory county commission decisions, officials ultimately decided to remove a monument from a courthouse annex in downtown Tampa.

Weeks prior to filing suit, Save Southern Heritage published personal information about activists who had spoken in favor of removing the monument. The website publicized names, addresses and occupations, among other things, of many of the speakers, a practice known as doxxing.

It's unclear what, if anything, will happen next as the debate over Confederate monuments continues, or whether Save Southern Heritage will attempt to find other potential grounds for a suit.

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