The Fight For Confederate Memorials Moves To State Legislation

Feb 14, 2018
Originally published on February 13, 2018 5:03 pm

The battle to determine the future of Confederate monuments in Florida rages on. The fight for change has moved from protests and rallies to include a new platform: Florida state legislation.

There are currently two bills in the legislature that could change the way Confederate monuments and holidays are treated moving forward in Florida.

One would preserve war monuments in Florida, while the other would remove Confederate holidays in Florida. Currently the state recognizes the birthdays of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee along with Confederate Memorial Day as holidays.

House Bill 1349 was introduced by Jacksonville Republican State Rep. Jay Fant. The bill is named the "Soldiers' and Heroes' Monuments and Memorials Protection Act."

Fant’s bill aims to protect not only the Confederate monuments of Florida, but all monuments to veterans of all wars dating back to the Anglo-Spanish war of 1585. The bill notes a veteran as any person that served in the active military, naval, or air service with an honorable discharge. Under the bill, it would also make willingly defacing a monument a third degree felony.

The Daily Record reported that the inspiration for the bill partly came from the fight here in Jacksonville to decide the future of Confederate monuments in the city. The inspiration stemmed from Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche calling on the city to investigate whether Confederate monuments should be relocated from public spaces to museums.

Fant’s bill has been referred to three committees, but has yet to be scheduled for any hearings. No Senate version of the bill has been introduced.

“To honor the Confederacy whether by way of memorial, holidays, or monument is to honor an institution that was not only anti-American, but also anti-Democratic,” Ben Frazier, President of the Jacksonville Northside Coalition said. The coalition has actively worked side by side with other organizations such as Take Em Down Jax to remove the monuments from public areas. The groups have worked to organize rallies and have encouraged people to fill out a comment card asking city council to remove the monuments before meetings.

Under the second bill, Senate Bill 224, introduced by Senator Lauren Book D-Plantation, all legal Florida holidays associated with the Confederacy would be removed from the books.

The bill was passed by the Community Affairs Committee earlier this month with a 4-2 vote. It is currently in the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee but there is no schedule for its hearing. Its counterpart in the House has yet to be heard.

With less than a month until the Legislative Session comes to an end in early March, it is unlikely that either bill will pass.

Gabrielle Garay can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org, 904-358-6317, or on Twitter at @GabbyAGaray

rmine the future of Confederate Monuments in Florida continues to rage on. The fight for change has moved from protests and rallies to include a new platform: Florida State Legislation.

There are currently two bills in Legislation aiming to change the way Confederate Monuments and holidays are treated moving forward in Florida.

One is working to preserve war monuments in Florida, while the other is trying to remove them from the books.

House Bill 1349 was introduced by Jacksonville local and Republican State Rep. Jay Fant. The bill was named the "Soldiers' and Heroes' Monuments and Memorials Protection Act."

The bill aims to protect not only the confederate monuments of Florida, but all monuments to veterans of all wars dating back to the Anglo-Spanish war of 1585. The bill notes a veteran as any person that served in the active military, naval, or air service with an honorable discharge. Under the bill, it would also make willingly defacing a monument a third degree felony.

The Jax Daily Record reported that the inspiration for the bill partly came from the fight here in Jacksonville to decide the future of the monuments in the city. The inspiration stemmed from Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche showing her support of removing the monuments in the City of Jacksonville, and the suggestion of completing an inventory of Confederate Monuments to relocate them from public property.

Fant’s bill has been referred to 3-committees, but has yet to be scheduled for any hearings. No Senate version of the bill has been introduced.

“To honor the Confederacy whether by way of memorial, holidays, or monument is to honor an institution that was not only anti-American, but also anti-Democratic,” Ben Frazier, President of the Jacksonville Northside Coalition said. The Coalition has actively worked side by side with other organizations such as Take Em Down Jax to remove the monuments from public areas. The groups have worked to organize rallies and have encouraged people to fill out a comment card asking city council to remove the monuments before meetings.

Under the second bill, Senate Bill 224, all legal Florida holidays associated with the Confederacy would be removed from the books. The bill, introduced by Senator Lauren Book D-Plantation, would remove the birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis as well as Confederate Memorial Day.

The bill was passed by the Community Affairs Committee earlier this month with a 4-2 vote. It is currently in the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee but there is no schedule for its hearing. Its counterpart in the House has yet to be heard before a council.

With less than a month till the Legislative Session comes to an end in early March it unlikely that the bill either bill will pass.

Gabrielle Garay can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org, 904-358-6317, or on Twitter at @GabbyAGaray

Photo used under Creative Commons license.

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