Debate over Confederate statue comes to Bradenton

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BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – The debate over Confederate monuments is front and center in Bradenton. 

The controversy surrounds a marble statue in front of the historical courthouse.

That’s where people opposed to this monument gathered and clashed with those who feel it should stay right where it is.

Hundreds converged on the old courthouse plaza to voice their opinion on Monday.

Things got heated when a man’s flag-waving hit a protest sign.

The crowd erupted in cheers as deputies whisked him away.

“This is what democracy looks like,” they shouted.

Earlier, the same man tried to light a flag of a protest group on fire.

“Get the **** out, it’s freedom of speech. It’s freedom of speech,” the man lighting the flag yelled.

Another man snatched the burning flag and ran off. The incident ignited emotions.

“Tell me why that’s okay? Why can he take a flag from us, set it on fire and he’s walking over there and our guy is taken in cuffs?” screamed a protester to a Manatee County deputy.

One group chanted “Black lives matter.”

Others made their case to keep the monument on the courthouse plaza.

“History matters. Our lives matter,” they yelled.

Police and sheriff’s deputies kept a close eye on everything. They placed heavy equipment at nearby intersections to prevent trouble.

The two sides are passionate.

“The monument is a token to bigotry and hatred. It’s been hijacked nationwide to use to go against the means of America,” said Manatee County Commissioner Charles Smith.

“I think we need to preserve our history, know where we came from. Know not to do it again,” said Tonya Thomas.

Cops on horseback urged protesters to go home. They obliged.

After Charlottesville, cops took no chances and planned a show of force. It paid off.Follow Peter Bernard on FacebookMONUMENT STORIES-

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