A House committee approved a bill that could end efforts to move or “re-contextualize” confederate monuments and other markers of war.
The “Historical Monuments and Memorials Protection Act” (HB 1607) cleared its first hurdle in front of the Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee, on a 10-2 vote.
Rep. Dean Black, a Jacksonville Republican who noted he was a “10th generation resident of Florida,” explained that “history belongs to all Floridians, indeed to all Americans,” in introducing his bill.
“If someone destroys historic monuments in one part of the state, all Floridians are diminished because of it,” Black contended.
Asked by Rep. Jervonte Edmonds why this bill was introduced, Black lamented that “mobs that would descend upon a community and tear down their monuments, statues, works of art” until the community is “compelled” to remove these edifices.
The bill would encompass historical depictions represented in the form of a “plaque, statue, marker, flag, banner, cenotaph, religious symbol, painting, seal, tombstone, structure name, or display constructed and located with the intent of being permanently displayed or perpetually maintained,” honoring military or public service, “past or present,” with no exceptions contemplated.
Black warned that if monuments were torn down, “people would walk in those parks and say that the things memorialized never happened.”
“They already do that with the Holocaust now,” Black contended. “And if we’re talking about the Civil War, that should never be forgotten. All of the stories should be told.”
Monuments could not be removed, and plaques and signs attempting to put those constructions in historical context would only be permissible “on the monument and memorial” if Secretary of State Cord Byrd signs off. And local governments “are expressly prohibited from removing those memorials from public view.”
According to a committee analysis of Senate companion legislation, this process “may incur workload costs” for the Department of State. But the sponsor thinks the price is worth it.
“It is their proper purview,” Black said.
Those who remove or damage monuments would pay treble the cost to restore and move them back, with “punitive damages” also possible.
“No group, no individual, has the right to demolish history that belongs to all,” Black contended.
Public entities owning the monuments, legal residents of the state, and “historical preservation” groups would stand for civil action under this bill.
“I want every Floridian to have the standing to defend the history that belongs to each and every one of them,” Black said.
The bill does allow for moving monuments “for construction, expansion, or alteration of publicly owned buildings, roads, streets, highways, or other transportation projects.” When such a movement happens, the structures must be “relocated to a site of similar prominence, honor, visibility, and access within the same county or municipality in which the monument or memorial was originally located.”
In support of the bill, Rep. Chuck Brannan of MacClenny likened monument removal to graverobbing.
“I may say something today somebody doesn’t like. Is somebody 100 years from now going to go dig my grave up and move me?”
The bill would take effect July 1, if signed.
Black’s bill is the House companion to SB 1096, filed last month by Sen. Jonathan Martin, a Republican from Fort Myers. That measure is also moving through committees.
Seber Newsome III
March 28, 2023 at 4:21 pm
Great job Representative Dean Black!!!
March 29, 2023 at 7:54 pm
Yes, somebody needs to keep those Jim Crow statues upright. Viagra would help.
Dr. Franklin Waters
March 28, 2023 at 4:24 pm
The only Confederate Memorial worth a damn is a white hankerchief tied to a stick.
March 28, 2023 at 7:45 pm
Not surprisingly, Dean Black isn’t.
March 29, 2023 at 9:40 am
No one should be vandalizing anything. Our historic monuments are a part of our history regardless of whether it is a history in which we are actually proud. However, as a society, we need to be mindful of “where” monuments currently are situated may no longer be an appropriate location for them. It almost certainly is inappropriate to have a Confederate memorial right outside a courthouse or county seat. Moving these monuments to less prominent locations is the correct answer. It would probably be best to find the most problematic monuments and create a reasonable schedule for the movement to less prominent locations. This will allow the pro-monument side to protect monuments and still view them and it will provide confidence to con-monument people that these monuments will be diminished in impact. The South has a wonderful heritage and culture which is far more pervasive than race. All races in the South have contributed to form our culture. It is a pity that the culture of the South gets so intertwined with racism. I believe there is a pervasive desire to put behind us that connection to racism, but it seems many keep “racism alive” for purely political interests instead of truly seeking a final melding to a Southern culture that all races could have pride in.
Seber Newsome III
March 29, 2023 at 4:10 pm
No, absolutely not. If a monument or memorial is moved because of a building or road needing to go there, then that monument or memorial needs to be put in a similar place where it will be seen just as much. It seems your answer is to put them away so no one will see them. They were put up to remember the loss of lives during the most important event in American History.
March 29, 2023 at 4:43 pm
There must be a monument representing ALL individual: races, ethnicities, political affiliations or none, religions & beliefs, women, men, straight, LGBTQ+, antifascist, whomever I’m temporarily not remembering,….etc.
The people—-NOT the politicians—-must decide, with no group being left out regardless of small size or un-popularity.
The attitude and practice must be “Put up mine—-and you can put up yours.” Otherwise yours gets ground up for kitty litter. No discrimination!
April 3, 2023 at 2:46 pm
So I guess we’ll continue to honor the traitors that is the Confederacy?
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