When Snooty the manatee passed away on Sunday at the age of 69, a town in Florida — and the rest of the country — mourned his loss. Now, thousands are pushing that his memory be preserved, while also replacing a local tribute to the Confederate south.
A petition on Change.org is proposing that a nearly 100-year-old monument to the Confederacy in Bradenton, Florida be relocated and replaced with a statue of Snooty.
“ To honor Snooty's legacy as a positive icon in Bradenton, I propose that the negative symbol of racism and oppression that is the Confederate monument be relocated and replaced with a statue of Snooty the Manatee. By doing so, the Confederate monument could possibly be moved to a museum (or other more appropriate location) out of everyday public eye and a more positive symbol then take its place,” the petition reads.
The man who created the petition, Anthony Pusateri, said in a comment thread that he would submit his proposal to Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston, the Bradenton City Council and the Manatee County commissioners if it received 2,000 signatures. As of Tuesday morning, Pusateri’s petition had received more than 4,000 signatures.
The Confederate monument, a four-sided obelisk, was dedicated on June 22, 1924 and commemorates “the memory of our Confederate soldiers.” Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, as well as Confederate president Jefferson Davis are also memorialized on the obelisk. The monument stands outside of the Manatee County Courthouse.
Snooty was kept at the South Florida Museum, located less than a mile from the courthouse. He died Sunday in an “accident” as the oldest manatee on record.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.