Confederate monument protection bill clears first Senate hurdle

confederate monument jacksonville
'It isn't too late to do the right thing.'

A bill that would protect historical memorials, including controversial monuments to the Confederacy erected after the Civil War by White citizens’ groups, moved through a committee in the Senate, powered by a Republican supermajority on the Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability.

No Democrat supported this measure.

Sen. Jonathan Martin’s bill (SB 1122) would impose penalties on local officials who removed those and other historical monuments after July 1, 2024. That mirrors a House companion in key ways, including potential removal from office by the Governor, as well as civil penalties and required restitution for monument restoration from the responsible lawmakers’ personal accounts.

The measure is intended to “protect Floridian and American history,” the sponsor said. Though he was reluctant to champion Confederate monuments explicitly, Democrats and members of the public, many of whom remember the bill from 2023’s attempt, made the point that the gist of the bill was a way to give the losers in historical conflicts equal time with the winners.

The Senate bill would also give standing to any aggrieved party to sue if a monument was “removed, damaged, or destroyed on or after October 1, 2020,” as long as they used the edifice for “remembrance,” a loose term with a wide variety of meanings. That was the date the Christopher Columbus memorial was removed from the St. Petersburg Pier.

Martin was asked about local removals of monuments not honoring the seditionist side of the Civil War, and he noted that the bill “protects non-Confederate monuments” such as the Museum of Black History.

“If you read the paper, you’d think the bill only protects Confederate history, which there could be nothing further from the truth,” the Senator said, lumping the Civil War losers in with “American history” writ large.

“Is this more about celebrating the people who fought for the continuation of slavery and not about history?” asked Sen. Tracie Davis of Jacksonville.

After a moment to figure out his words, Martin said “absolutely not,” adding that if that had been the intention, it would have been in the bill explicitly.

“You took a minute to answer that question. I think I expected an ‘absolutely not’ a little quicker than that,” Davis responded.

Davis asked Martin about using private funds to remove a monument, as Jacksonville did. Martin said his bill would allow the removal of the Mayor if it was passed and she removed the monument after that.

“I’d hope for the people that live in your community that they have access to American history on the streets,” Martin said. He added that elected officials “would do everything they can to protect history and make sure it’s present” by maintaining monuments, language that would cover the Jacksonville structure erected during the Jim Crow era to try to reinforce historic racism and racial divides that still haunt the city to this day.

In debate, Davis noted that the state’s Governor just last year posited that slaves benefited from slavery, a position memorialized in the state’s educational standards.

Martin said the bill’s intent is to “ensure all monuments and memorials” remain intact in the state, and that his legislation meant these could only be relocated for construction purposes, and must be returned to their original locations within 12 months. It does allow for contextual markers or memorials to be near the monuments.

Martin’s bill, a companion to a similar House bill from Rep. Dean Black, comes after the Republican legislator from Jacksonville watched his hometown remove a monument to the “Women of the Southland” from the city’s formerly named Confederate Park, now Springfield Park.

HB 395 likewise proposes state “protection of historical monuments and memorials” and authorizes “all actions to protect and preserve all historical monuments and memorials from removal, damage, or destruction.”

There are some minor differences between the bills regarding the mechanisms of enforcement. The Senate version contemplates a $1,000 penalty for the personal accounts of culpable officials in addition to restoration costs, while the House version envisions a $5,000 fine. The House bill’s retroactive provision goes back to 2017, meanwhile, even before the time period the Senate product would cover.

Martin said the retroactivity was intended to “protect as much historical monuments as possible” and have an “honest discussion” without a “rush to remove monuments.”

“Going back to 2020 isn’t that far,” he said. “They’re still around and they can still be returned to where they were. It isn’t too late to do the right thing.”

Martin also said he was opposed to referendums in cities that would authorize removing monuments because those votes might offend former residents who left for suburbs because of White flight.

He asserted it was “important to remember (that) many of the people who used to live in cities have moved to the counties or just outside the city limits or lived in one county and might have moved to another county.”

“It’s important that individuals who grew up in what used to be a smaller town that’s now a much larger town have the ability to go and see those historical markers, that they remember when they were kids or that their grandparents took them to, that they can share that history with their kids and their grandkids.”

Assuming this bill passes and these minor differences are resolved by the supermajority GOP legislature, it’s not entirely certain what Gov. Ron DeSantis will do.

“Since this legislation is still subject to the legislative process (and therefore different iterations), the Governor will decide on the merits of the bill in final form if and when it passes and is delivered to the Governor’s office,” asserted Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern last year, using language he’s used previously when asked about bills that haven’t yet passed.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Michael K

    January 22, 2024 at 6:17 pm

    The “Lost Cause” seems to be alive in the Republican-led Florida legislature. No other developed nation on earth that I can think of glorifies traitors. The honest telling of the history of slavery is banned in Florida schools – but monuments that were installed to intimidate Black people during the Jim Crow era are held as sacred.

    Just curious: How much support do these bills have from Black Floridians?

    • Pack E. Derm

      January 22, 2024 at 6:35 pm

      I suggest you visit the UK and see the statue of Queen Boudica. And maybe Boston and check out the Hungarian statue there. You could also go to Hungary and visit Memento Park. It’s really cool. The Vercingetorix monument in France is also worth a visit. I’ve never actually seen Boxer Rebellion statues but I’m told they exist. The Spartacus statue in the Louvre is worth mentioning, too.

      • MH/Duuuval

        January 22, 2024 at 10:19 pm

        I don’t know about the others you list, but wasn’t Spartacus the guy who led a rebellion of those enslaved by the Romans? No worries about that one being pulled down, amicus, at least not by The People.

        • MH/Duuuval

          January 24, 2024 at 9:07 am

          “Who speaks for the dead?” is the mantra of the Guardians of History who support the bill.

          Indeed, who speaks for them, and will the next step be registering them as MAGA voters?

      • rick whitaker

        January 24, 2024 at 10:37 am

        pack e. dern, bad comparrassion, we are democratic and make our choices based on majority rule. when the confederate statutes were put up , that was not done by majority decree. it was done by wealthy and religious sympathizers. the worldly statutes around europe you mentioned were not paid for by majority rule . they were paid for by religious and political zealots. your whataboutism is noted as such. statutes to terrorist losers are a waste of money and an act of hate.

  • Julia

    January 22, 2024 at 6:17 pm

    I ­­­­­­a­­m ­­­­ma­­k­­i­­ng 28­­5­­ Dollars e­­a­­ch­­ h­­o­­u­­r ­­­­f­­o­­r w­­o­­r­­ki­­n­­g­­ ­­­­on­­l­­i­­n­­e. ­­I n­­e­­v­­e­­r ­­­­t­­h­­o­­u­­g­­h­­t ­­­­t­­h­­a­­t ­­­­i­­t ­­­­w­­a­­s ­­­­l­­e­­g­­i­­t­­ b­­u­­t­­­­ ­­m­­y­­ ­­­­­­mb03 b­­e­­s­­t­­­­ ­­f­­r­­i­­e­­n­­d­­ ­­e­­a­­r­­n­­s ­­­­29,0­­0­­0 d­­o­­l­­l­­a­­r­­s ­­­­ev­­e­­r­­y ­­m­­o­­n­­t­­h ­­d­­­­o­­i­­n­­g t­­h­­i­­s ­­a­­n­­d­­ s­­h­­e nv40 ­­­­sh­­o­­w­­e­­d ­­m­­e­­ ­­h­­o­­w­.

    C­­h­­e­­c­­k­­ It…………………………

  • Not what Jesus would do!

    January 22, 2024 at 7:15 pm

    It is beyond insane that anyone, particularly Republicans, seek to keep monuments built 50 to 100 years after the fact in memory(?)/honor(!?!) of men responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans.

    • Craven Florida

      January 23, 2024 at 8:07 am

      Folks, slavery isn’t coming back, no matter how you wish it would.

      Move on-

  • KathrynA

    January 22, 2024 at 8:41 pm

    Does anyone else feel like we’re living in a surreal state? When you think things cannot go backward anymore–you find out they can and do here. We can’t learn about black history, but we must have confederate statues. We ban books from Anne Frank Diaries and now, the dictionary! We brag about graduation rates rising as we take away any accountability to get that graduation certificate. One of the classes that helped me understand the community, the country and world was sociology, but now that must never be a required class. The state promotes lies about science and healthcare. We have a National Guard, but now we must have a state guard that is accountable only to the governor and no one is exactly sure what they are trying to do. We have an election police and spend countless dollars on this and only a couple handfuls of fraudulent votes were found. I could go on and on, but surely they are trying to control the state through force and stupid laws and dumbing down the educational system. They give thousands to people home schooling their children to spend however they want with no accountability if the kids are learning anything. I heard a group of homeschool parents go to Disney every week with their kids. I have nothing against Disney, but there is only so much that is educational there. Then tonight, I hear that perhaps, Florida’s taxpayers should pay for Trump’s legal fees. Where is integrity and common sense? It’s not here in this state!

    • MH/Duuuval

      January 22, 2024 at 9:59 pm

      Surreal is a good descriptor, especially this paragraph from AG: “Martin also said he was opposed to referendums in cities that would authorize removing monuments because those votes might offend former residents who left for suburbs because of White flight.”

      So, Martin believes those who fled the cities because of the Brown decision, et al, should continue to have a vote?

      • MH/Duuuval

        January 22, 2024 at 10:21 pm

        I have a gut feeling the cowardly lions of the Jax City Council would sell the white woman for $1 to any party who could provide bond that they would move the statue onto private property. There it could be adorned with flowers and bowed down to every time Big Jim blows.

    • rick whitaker

      January 24, 2024 at 10:44 am

      kathryn, i moved out of florida years ago and am now flourishing in another state. thanks to desantis and scott florida is worse now. your points were well made. educational vouchers will weaken our country.

  • Bill Evers

    January 22, 2024 at 10:46 pm

    Someone should sponsor a bill cleansing Florida of Marxists, communists and white liberals who hate their own people.

    • My Take

      January 23, 2024 at 3:16 am

      The racists abandoned the cities in white flight, but bemoan that the cities vote differently now.

    • Craven Florida

      January 23, 2024 at 8:08 am

      All the churches would be closed if you got your way…

    • rick whitaker

      January 24, 2024 at 10:46 am

      kathryn, i moved out of florida years ago and am now flourishing in another state. thanks to desantis and scott florida is worse now. your points were well made. educational vouchers will weaken our country.

    • rick whitaker

      January 24, 2024 at 10:50 am

      bill, then who would be left to run the state. the only people left would be the greedy rich and the dumb racist. how are those fools running things? bill, please don’t ever leave florida. the state needs you to root out the liberals.

    • Karen Wickersham

      January 25, 2024 at 12:41 am

      Please do tell us where the actual Communists and Marxists are. Also, please, if you have the ability, define each and then compare and contrast to actual Socialism and Social Democracies. If you can, you will see that Communism and Marxism aren’t exactly flourishing here. Study and face the truth.

      And by ‘own people’ who exactly are you referring to? White people? Love is not a pie, in which loving all people results in ‘one’s own people’ (whatever that means), not receiving just as much love.

      You can love all people, you know. Admitting and understanding the actual racial history in this country is possible while loving all races. Nobody is asking White people to hate themselves, or feel personally responsible for the racial history.

      I’ve been aware of my own racial privilege for a long time. When I’m stopped by cops, I don’t fear for my life. My non-White friends most certainly do, and have reason to. I’ve personally witnessed this a few times.

      Open your eyes, heart and mind. You might learn something.

  • Seber Newsome III

    January 22, 2024 at 11:02 pm

    Myself and other Patriots drove three hours and spoke in the Governmental Oversight committee today. We said, put up new monuments to people or events, do not take them down. The other side, the haters, talked about slavery and white supremacy, the same old song and dance, people are tired of hearing that crap. The bill moves and I will be at the next committee speaking as well.

    • Craven Florida

      January 23, 2024 at 8:09 am

      You J6ers are traitors.

    • MH/Duuuval

      January 23, 2024 at 11:23 am

      III: Still using hand signals?

    • SkippingDog

      January 23, 2024 at 2:42 pm

      You want new statues to memorialize events like what?

    • Karen Wickersham

      January 25, 2024 at 12:46 am

      Do you know the actual origins of the memorials you seem to worship?

      Look up the history of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. You’ll see that the history about the civil war taught in your school was nothing but whitewashing propaganda, full of lies.

      You may come by your ‘educational history’ honestly because that organization polluted school history books since the late 1800s. But you don’t have to remain ignorant.

      Ironic that the FL Congress can’t face factual history and yet chooses to protect what is simple propaganda.

  • Earl's Long Suffering But Heavily Medicated Wife

    January 22, 2024 at 11:30 pm

    I say keep the monuments. Every last one of them. Just change the plaque to something suitable that details their murderous treason. That’s called compromise. Everyone’s happy.

  • My Take

    January 23, 2024 at 3:22 am

    I’ll bet all these Confederate symps had a smile when Saddam’s statue came down.

    • Craven Florida

      January 23, 2024 at 8:09 am

      Right? Beta Cuck Confederate gonna beta…

  • SkippingDog

    January 23, 2024 at 2:41 pm

    It’s all about celebrating the old institutions of slavery and white power, regardless of how the neo-Confederates in Florida want to disguise it. Nobody is removing statues and monuments to anything not directly related to the racist history of places like Florida, and the pathological commitment to the “Lost Cause” nonsense that has for so long poisoned our nation.
    It’s long past time for Reconstruction 2.0.

    • MH/Duuuval

      January 23, 2024 at 5:25 pm

      Good to know. I was worried about the bust of Bobby Burns located in Springfield Park — where the white female enslaver statue used to be.

  • TheUnionForever

    January 23, 2024 at 5:22 pm

    My relatives fought for the Union. Time for me to go back to friendly territory.

  • Dont Say FLA

    January 24, 2024 at 12:20 pm

    Good. Pigeons gotta shit somewhere.

  • the trut

    January 24, 2024 at 12:35 pm

    All you haters will be crying when the Women of the Southland statues and the Hemming monument go back up, waaaa waaaa

  • the Truth

    January 25, 2024 at 8:07 pm

    I will be heading to Tallahassee next week to speak in another committee to get the bill passed , and it will get passed

Comments are closed.


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