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Monument Honoring the ‘Courageous 12’ Proposed for Site of Former St. Pete Police Department

Courageous|St.PetersburgPoliceDepartment|CivilRights

The Courageous 12 were black St. Petersburg police officers who filed a discrimination lawsuit in 1965 to gain the full rights and authority of their white counterparts. The group ultimately prevailed. This would be the second installation to honor the 12.

ST. PETERSBURG – The St. Petersburg City Council is scheduled to vote Aug. 20 to approve the redevelopment of the site of the former police department.

As part of the city’s agreement with EDGE Central Development Partners, and in accordance with city code requiring public art to be a part of such new development, the development team has committed to commission a piece of art specifically honoring the Courageous 12. They were 12 St. Petersburg police officers who filed a discrimination lawsuit in 1965 to gain the full rights and authority of their white counterparts. The group ultimately prevailed. Risking their livelihoods in the face of adversity is why they are now known as the Courageous 12.

Officer Leon Jackson, now retired and the sole surviving member of the Courageous 12, became the first black officer assigned to an all-white neighborhood.

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

EDGE Central Development will contribute a minimum of $50,000 and up to $100,000 toward the monument. The city’s Public Arts Commission has also pledged to dedicate $100,000 for this purpose.

Jay Miller, a partner of the EDGE Central Development Partners group, said, “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.”

St. Petersburg police Chief Anthony Holloway said, “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.”

In 2019, Mayor Rick Kriseman and Holloway were joined by Jackson in unveiling a plaque honoring the Courageous 12 inside the lobby of the new St. Petersburg Police Department. The future monument will be the second permanent installation in the city to honor these men.

“Mr. Jackson and his fellow officers weren’t just courageous, they were resilient. It took several years before the U.S. Court of Appeals decided their case and afforded these men the rights they long deserved. The Courageous 12 made our police department and our entire city a better and fairer place, and it is an honor for me to help ensure they are properly honored and remembered for as long as the sun shines on our great city,” Kriseman said.

The development to be located at 1300 First Ave. N will include the first new Class “A” office building to be developed in more than 20 years, new residential condominiums and units including and workforce apartment housing units, retail space, and a parking garage. Demolition and clearance of the property is expected to begin in 2021.

PHOTO SHOWS THE COURAGEOUS 12.

Courageous 12 | Leon Jackson | St Petersburg Police | Tampabay News | News Tampa

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