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'Courageous 12' monument to be built at former St. Pete PD headquarters

In 1965, 12 St. Pete police officers filed a discrimination lawsuit to gain the same rights as their white counterparts.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The old headquarters of the St. Petersburg Police Department will soon be given a makeover as part of a new development and will be the home of a monument dedicated to officers who fought against discrimination in segregated St. Petersburg in the 1960s. 

"The Courageous 12," a group of 12 Black St. Pete police officers, risked their livelihoods in 1965 when they filed a discrimination lawsuit in order to gain the full rights and authorities as their white counterparts. 

While the case was dismissed in 1966, they appealed in 1968 with the help of the NAACP and won that case. In 1969, Officer Leon Jackson became the first black officer assigned to an all-white neighborhood. Jackson is last surviving member of The Courageous 12.

Their fight for change paved the way for four Tampa police officers to file a similar lawsuit. 

“We did something for ourselves. The by-product is, we made history,” said Mr. Jackson, upon learning of plans for the monument.

Their courage and determination has been honored in recent years. In 2019, Anthony Holloway, Chief of Police, dedicated a plaque to the group at the new police headquarters. 

Now, the ground-breaking group will have a public monument that will immortalize their impact on the city of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area.

The monument will be built at the site of the old police headquarters located at 1300 1st Ave. N as part of a new development. Part of the city's code requires new developments to have public art.

EDGE Central Development says they will contribute a minimum of $50,000 and up to $100,000 toward the monument. The St. Petersburg Public Arts Commission has pledged to contribute $100,000 to the project. 

Jay Miller is a partner of the EDGE Central Development Partners group and remarked on the public art commitment, “With this exciting project, we have been given a chance to leave a lasting mark on the ongoing renaissance of the Edge District.

We are very pleased to make a public art commitment to honor the historic crusade of The Courageous 12 to integrate St. Petersburg. We look forward to working with the thriving arts community to create an indelible piece of transformational art that informs the community about real historical events in our city.”

“The Courageous Twelve opened the door for all races to hold high-ranking positions throughout the St. Petersburg Police Department, as well as police departments around the country. Thanks to their efforts, today we have an agency that reflects the diversity of our community. This monument will ensure that their sacrifices will never be forgotten.” said Anthony Holloway, Chief of Police.

The development is set to include new resident condos, workforce apartment housing, retail space, and a parking garage. The project is expected to begin demolition and clearance in 2021. 

The St. Petersburg Police Department recently announced it would divert funds away from from hiring new officers and instead bring on unarmed social workers to handle non-violent calls.

   

    

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