Another ‘Lost Cause?’ House committee to hear bill protecting Confederate monuments
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 2/9/23-Rep. Dean Black, R-Jacksonville, during the Civil Justice Subcommittee, Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

This bill would extend to Confederate memorials.

A bill that could impose severe penalties on politicians and localities that remove Confederate monuments and other tributes to bygone wars and history will have its first committee hearing next week in the House.

The State Affairs Committee will consider CS/HB 395, “Protection of Historic Monuments and Memorials,” on Tuesday.

The Rep. Dean Black bill 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.”

The bill would punish local lawmakers and officials who voted to remove such memorials, authorizing a fine for the costs of replacing or repairing the memorial out of their personal wealth for removal actions. It would also give Ron DeSantis the power to remove elected leaders from local office from the time the bill takes effect.

The state would preempt local authority over monument removal unless it’s part of a construction project, in which case moving the structure would be allowed for up to a year.

After that, the edifice “shall be placed back at the original location or, if that is not possible, as close as possible to the original location in a prominent place for easy and accessible public viewing as determined by the Florida Historical Commission or, for a military monument or memorial, as determined by the executive director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”

The bill bans “a historical monument or memorial” from being “removed, damaged, or destroyed.”

“Accurate history belongs to all Floridians in perpetuity,” Black’s legislation reads. But it does permit a “contextual plaque or marker … near the monument or memorial if the Secretary of State or the executive director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, as appropriate, and the State Historic Preservation Officer, after consulting with the Florida Historical Commission, decide that such marker provides a more accurate understanding of the monument or memorial.”

The bill language makes the state preemption explicit against “any local elected officials who may be swayed by undue influence by groups who may feel offended or hurt by certain actions in the history of the state or the nation.” It is unclear what “undue influence” means in this context.

The bill in its original form also contemplates retroactive penalties for “removed, damaged, or destroyed … monuments or memorials” after 2016, including fines for responsible parties that are three times the cost of replacing the monument, and “punitive damages” that are unspecified. The legislation gives standing to all manner of interested parties, including a “person regularly using the monument or memorial for remembrance.”

The notice suggests a committee substitute is in play, and at least theoretically, that could align the language with the version moving through Senate committees. 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.  The House version’s original form backdated the cause of action to 2017.

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.

The monument protection legislation would bring a state resolution to a long-simmering controversy in Jacksonville, where two monuments to the so-called Lost Cause, each constructed during the Jim Crow era and in the context of white supremacy, have been taken down since 2020

Current Democratic Mayor Donna Deegan has called the bill a “slap in the face to our Black community, which has already endured so much” and “an unconstitutional overreach that is the latest example of home rule being stripped away from Florida cities.”

Meanwhile, Gov. DeSantis’ office is not weighing in on the legislation just yet.

“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, who used language he’s used previously when asked about bills that haven’t passed yet.

Still, remarks DeSantis made on the presidential campaign trail suggest that he is taking a newly sympathetic look at preserving Confederate history.

Florida’s Governor is speaking out about Jacksonville’s removal of a Jim Crow-era Confederate monument.

Ron DeSantis ripped Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan in the wake of the Mayor’s Office compelling the removal of the Women of the Southland structure from Springfield Park, equating Confederate statues with those honoring American heroes.

“I’m opposed to taking down statues. The idea that we’re going to just erase history is wrong. You’ve seen it now where they tried to take down Thomas Jefferson, they tried to take down George Washington off schools. It just gets so out of hand. So I don’t support taking down statues, particularly if you don’t have legal authority to do it,” DeSantis said.

“I don’t know what the legal basis was to do it. I just kind of got a report on it, but I would not be taking down statues,” DeSantis added.

In June, the Florida Governor said that the newly rechristened Fort Liberty in North Carolina should have its name changed back to honor Braxton Bragg, whose legacy as a rebel commander was undistinguished even by the markers of the rebel army.

“Here’s what I said with respect to Fort Bragg is, that’s an iconic base in this country. I didn’t even know it was a Civil War general,” said DeSantis, who graduated from Yale in 2001 with a B.A., magna cum laude in history.

“I don’t think most people knew it was a Civil War general. You just know you’ve been to Bragg, right? And they’re changing it for political correctness reasons. And so I don’t believe in doing it for political correctness reasons and that’s just kind of how we’re going to roll on it. And here’s the thing, you know, you learn from history, you don’t erase the history.”

Polling suggests the voters of the state may be with the Governor and the bill sponsors.

The Cygnal survey of 800 likely Florida voters shows a law “that would protect historical monuments and memorials, including some for soldiers who fought for the Confederate States of America, gets support from 6-in-10 voters as only Democrats oppose the law (53% oppose; 28% support).”

Indeed, 91% of Republicans support such a law, with 81% of them saying they strongly support it.

Support for the war memorials extends to independent voters also, with 51% saying they support it against 30% opposition. A full 43% of no-party-affiliated voters say they strongly support the measure.

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


  • Dont Say FLA

    January 27, 2024 at 7:13 pm

    Keep the monuments. Change the signs.

    “Only YOU can prevent yourself being like these losers.”

    • Dont Say FLA

      January 27, 2024 at 7:14 pm

      Add a Trump monument and a Rhonda monument while keeping the monuments. Also bearing signs reading “Only YOU can prevent yourself being like these losers.”

  • Da Real Reps

    January 27, 2024 at 10:43 pm

    Both of the squirrels living Rep Black’s skull cavity should take their nuts and find a more stable home.

    This guy puts the nuts in fruitcake.

    This legislation shows that Republicans like Black are incapable of running a real government and would rather pander to their KKK base.

    Demagoguery on full display.

  • MH/Duuuval

    January 28, 2024 at 12:29 pm

    Once the MAGAmites can turn back the hands of time by making post facto laws and penalties, the game is over for normal folks.

    BTW: I wish the Deegan camp would give Ron Salem a break. His performance, so far, has been by the book and, to me, appears to be about moving on. Keep challenging him and the door opens wider to the dedicated MAGA deadenders on the Council — like Howlin’ and Carrico — to become shriller and up the ante.

  • waken

    January 28, 2024 at 2:34 pm

    The government that governs least governs best. What ever happened to the old GOP? You know, local control is best. The new Florida GOP is drunk with preemption of local control and home rule. WT heck happened? That said, I suggest an amendment to allow the monuments to be allowed to be moved to Texas. They could load them on the “immigration express” that our tax dollars fund to export Texas’ refugees to Martha’s vineyard!

  • Seber Newsome III

    January 28, 2024 at 6:29 pm

    First of all, the statues in Jacksonville, were not part of a so called “lost cause”. The one in Hemming Park was put up to honor the soldiers from Florida.. 30% of whom did not make it home and were buried in mass graves or left on the battlefield. The statue in Confederate Park was put up to honor the women who took care of their families while the men were off fighting a war, just like women do today. I will be there in Tallahassee speaking in favor of the bill and to my Representative Dean Black. He has courage to stand up against the Woke. Senator Clay Yarborough has courage too, to stand up against the Woke liberal/marxist. The bill protects ALL Historical Monuments.

    • MH/Duuuval

      January 28, 2024 at 7:33 pm

      The statue in question ought to be located on private property instead of looming over the public. If you really respected white Southern womanhood, you”d get your friends to create a go-fund-me account and offer to take the statue off the hands of COJ — if you can raise the funds to move it. It’s surplus now.

    • Michael K

      January 29, 2024 at 6:22 pm

      This bill is a direct plea to the white supremacists in the MAGA cult who have an “alternative” view of American History. Those who rose in armed insurrection against the United States were traitors who fought to defend chattel slavery in the South. Those “monuments” were used during the Jim Crow era to “remind” Black people who is in charge – in some places also the site of lynchings. It’s no “coincidence” that the Emancipation Proclamation was issued at the end of the Civil War.

      What a disgrace to perpetuate the glorification of traitors.

  • Bwj

    January 29, 2024 at 12:31 pm

    The Confederacy committed treason. What ideals they had were despicable. Might as well raise a statue to king George III

    • Seber Newsome III

      January 29, 2024 at 4:43 pm

      using your logic Bwj, then the United States committed treason when we broke away from England because of the taxes and tariffs.. uh oh

      • MH/Duuuval

        January 29, 2024 at 5:51 pm

        The Civil War was a rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.

        Large slaveholders could pay a substitute to serve or got a free pass because they held captive more than 20 enslaved Africans.

        The war proved so popular in the South that conscription was instituted in April, 1862.

        Signal your friends on the Council that you all will pay $1 for the newly surplus city property and get a bond underwritten by wealthy Ortegans guaranteeing the safe transfer of the statue, and put it wherever you all want. But, not on public property.

      • Bwj

        January 31, 2024 at 6:21 pm

        Does England honor George Washington with one? That was my point.

  • Linwood Wright

    January 30, 2024 at 10:20 pm

    Confederate monuments?
    Don’t you mean Participation Trophys?

  • Tom Smith

    January 30, 2024 at 11:54 pm

    The war for southern independence took more lives than all of our wars since the put together. Comments from the Marxists tell me they want another. However you’ll need to show up to get your participation trophy.

    • Linwood Wright

      January 31, 2024 at 10:52 am

      Tom, the confederate monuments are quite literally “Participation Trophies”. And what in actual f*ck does any of this have to do with “Marxists”? Are you ok?
      Seems like too much AM Talk Radio and Fox News has rotted your brain.

Comments are closed.


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