In photos: Tampa Bay reacts to Charlottesville — and looks ahead

As groups protest last week's hate and violence, Florida's own hateful history looms large.

click to enlarge Activists gathered in downtown Tampa Sunday night to express solidarity with anti-white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Activists gathered in downtown Tampa Sunday night to express solidarity with anti-white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville.

In the wake of the incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month, activists, officials and civil rights leaders in Tampa Bay flocked to vigils and other events to show solidarity with the city and to honor the counter-protesters and police officers killed and wounded amidst the chaos of a white supremacists rally.

On the Sunday following the violence, people gathered in St. Pete and Tampa’s downtowns to send the message that neo-Nazi hate, intimidation and violence are not welcome in these parts.

The thing is, they are already here.

One of the major hate websites, dailystormer.com, is based in Brandon, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Map. After the site posted a sexist, profanity-laden rant ridiculing Heather Heyer, who was killed Saturday, it was kicked off the hosting site GoDaddy, and other web service providers followed suit. However, the sentiment that drove that post remains alive and well in Florida. The state ranks second in the nation in the number of entities labeled hate groups by SPC (granted, that list includes groups like Nation of Islam).

Next month, white nationalist Richard Spencer may speak at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, a city that just took down a Confederate monument (a similar move is what allegedly sparked white nationalists to march in Charlottesville). A man from the Tampa area who was arrested in Charlottesville for carrying a concealed weapon had also expressed white nationalist sentiments online prior to the event.

Closer to home, Confederate relics continue to fuel tensions as Hillsborough County gets ready to remove a monument to Confederate veterans from the grounds of a county courthouse annex. Debate over whether that ought to be done sparked passions on either side of the issue. In St. Pete, a recent removal of a small, obscure confederate monument sat unonticed downtown may spark another spirited debate.

But local leaders remain hopeful that voices that celebrate diversity will drown out those that fight it.

“Those warped young people in Virginia, whether they refer to themselves as white supremacists or klansmen or Nazis, should know that they do not stand a chance here," said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman at a Sunday evening vigil. "Not a chance. Love always trumps hate here.”

click to enlarge Protesters marched to the infamous Confederate monument in downtown Tampa that is slated for removal. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Protesters marched to the infamous Confederate monument in downtown Tampa that is slated for removal.

click to enlarge Some protesters wear bandanas over part of their faces to conceal their identity. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Some protesters wear bandanas over part of their faces to conceal their identity.

...

click to enlarge In photos: Tampa Bay reacts to Charlottesville — and looks ahead
Kimberly DeFalco

click to enlarge In photos: Tampa Bay reacts to Charlottesville — and looks ahead
Kimberly DeFalco

click to enlarge In photos: Tampa Bay reacts to Charlottesville — and looks ahead
Kimberly DeFalco

click to enlarge In photos: Tampa Bay reacts to Charlottesville — and looks ahead
Kimberly DeFalco

click to enlarge In photos: Tampa Bay reacts to Charlottesville — and looks ahead
Kimberly DeFalco

click to enlarge In photos: Tampa Bay reacts to Charlottesville — and looks ahead
Kimberly DeFalco

click to enlarge In photos: Tampa Bay reacts to Charlottesville — and looks ahead
Kimberly DeFalco

click to enlarge In photos: Tampa Bay reacts to Charlottesville — and looks ahead
Kimberly DeFalco


click to enlarge Reverend Russell Meyer urges his audience to reject hate. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Reverend Russell Meyer urges his audience to reject hate.

click to enlarge In photos: Tampa Bay reacts to Charlottesville — and looks ahead
Kimberly DeFalco


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