Another Senate panel to consider bill removing local officials who take down Confederate statues
Image via Drew Dixon

Jonathan Martin's bill differs from the House version at this writing.

The first Tuesday of Black History Month will see the second stop for Sen. Jonathan Martin’s bill that would give the state the ultimate authority over Confederate statues in Florida’s cities.

SB 1122 would impose penalties on local officials who removed those and other historical monuments after July 1, 2024.

“It is the intent of the Legislature that the state not allow a historical monument or memorial to be removed, damaged, or destroyed. Accurate history belongs to all Floridians in perpetuity,” the bill contends, adding that “an elected official of a local government acting in his or her official capacity who knowingly and willfully violates this section on or after July 1, 2024, may be subject to
suspension or removal from office by the Governor.”

Sanctions include 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 in a previous committee.

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. Martin said in its first committee that was the date the Christopher Columbus memorial was removed from the St. Petersburg Pier.

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

The Senate product is more punitive than Rep. Dean Black’s House version, which saw major changes via a substitute passed by its first committee of reference. The House bill now stipulates the structure must have been displayed for 25 years, with an original expectation of permanent installation.

The preemption language is explicit in HB 395, ceding to the state “the whole field of removal, damage, or destruction of historic Florida monuments or memorials to the exclusion of any existing or future local government ordinance, regulation, or rule.”

In a contrast to the original filing, which included a retroactive condition that would seem to be a remedy to Jacksonville’s removal of two Confederate monuments in 2020 and 2023, the current House bill is focused on the future and seems to abandon any hope that the Legislature can compel local officials to reinstall previously removed memorials.

Rather, in future occurrences “the court shall declare the ordinance, regulation, or rule invalid and issue a permanent injunction against the local government prohibiting it from enforcing such ordinance, regulation, or rule. It is no defense that in enacting the ordinance, regulation, or rule the local government was acting in good faith or upon advice of counsel.”

The new language also gives localities recourse to move monuments permanently, but that must still be on public property, “at a site with similar prominence, honor, visibility, and access within the same county or municipality as determined by the department after consultation with the Florida Historical Commission or, for a historic Florida military monument or memorial, after consultation with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”

Previously, there was no mechanism for permanent relocation of the memorial in the House bill.

Gov. Ron DeSantis started off Black History Month in the House bill sponsor’s district by voicing his “100%” commitment to keeping the structures up in perpetuity.

“I have not seen the legislation, but I’ve been very clear ever since I’ve been Governor, I do not support taking down monuments in this state,” DeSantis said Thursday in Jacksonville.

The Governor said calls for the removal of “some Civil War general or whatever” have evolved into other forms of historical erasure, such as “taking down Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt and (AbrahamLincoln, taking (GeorgeWashington’s name off schools.”

“You’re already up to, like, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. I mean, you’re going to go on and on there because … if you’re going to apply some type of hyperwoke 21st century test to pass people, you going to run into turbulence with MLK Jr., you’re going to run into turbulence with a lot of people,” he added.

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


  • MH/Duuuval

    February 3, 2024 at 8:24 am

    “Gov. Ron DeSantis started off Black History Month in the House bill sponsor’s district by voicing his “100%” commitment to keeping the structures up in perpetuity.”

    More thousand-year Reich musings by Dee.

  • PeterH

    February 3, 2024 at 8:34 am

    Tallahassee……the Capitol of the DeSantis Confederacy

    • MH/Duuuval

      February 4, 2024 at 11:46 am

      Per capita, Florida was number one place where Black folks were likely to be lynched. Any wonder why so many hied to the Nawth in the early 20th century?

  • Tom

    February 3, 2024 at 9:18 am

    I guess I’m stuck with my ron desantis garden gnome now. That sucks.

    • Rude Eye

      February 3, 2024 at 9:38 am

      I have the DeSantis bobble head gnome and I took it and buried it head down, the upside down body bobbles it looks much better now.

  • RVH

    February 3, 2024 at 9:52 am

    He wants to keep the statues but yet he’s eliminating the teaching of the history behind the reason the statues are there in the first place, slavery.

    • the Truth

      February 3, 2024 at 8:43 pm

      you got it wrong, the statues were put up to either honor the soldiers who fought to defend their homes and families or to the women who took care of their families while the men were off fighting, like the one taken down in jacksonville, Women of the Southland statue

      • MH/Duuuval

        February 3, 2024 at 10:12 pm

        Alexander Hamilton Stephens, vice president of the Confederate States of America, gave a speech on March 21, 1861 to justify secession. Stephens’ speech declared that disagreements over the enslavement of Africans was the “immediate cause” of secession.

        The suffering of civilians is always great in wartime, for both sides, just as in Israel and Gaza today.

        But, Neo-rebels can’t bring themselves to admit the ignoble reason for secession was perpetual enslavement of Africans.

  • Seber Newsome III

    February 3, 2024 at 10:56 am

    I have spoken at the first two committee stops. I will be there speaking on Feb 6 in the Community Affairs committee. Thank you Senator Martin and co sponsor Clay Yarborough, and Representative Dean Black and Webster Barnaby.. We will get it done this year.
    Deo Vindice

    • MH/Duuuval

      February 4, 2024 at 4:51 pm

      What time? I might try to catch your clown act on the Florida Channel.

      • Seber Newsome III

        February 4, 2024 at 5:09 pm

        3 to 6pm,, and please try to catch the vote, which will be 5 to 3 YES

        • MH/Duuuval

          February 4, 2024 at 10:26 pm

          5 supine MAGA, 3 Democrats

  • Michael K

    February 3, 2024 at 11:34 am

    No better way for a Republican-led legislature to honor Black History Month than by glorifying the Confederacy, traitors who caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, and monuments to enforce Jim Crow laws. Let the hate always be revered!


  • Seber Newsome III

    February 3, 2024 at 7:30 pm

    I will be speaking on Feb 6 in the Community Affairs committee in the Senate, I have spoke twice now, both times the bill passes.

    • MH/Duuuval

      February 3, 2024 at 10:15 pm

      Still using hand signals to punctuate your message?

      (Ex post facto legislation is neither legal nor legitimate. Nor are bills of attainder.

      • Seber Newsome III

        February 4, 2024 at 3:13 pm

        Whatever MH/Duuuval,,, the bills will pass and the Great Governor will sign them Deo Vindice

  • Julia

    February 4, 2024 at 10:04 pm

    I agree that any retroactivity in Rep. Black’s bill would probably be illegal and that should it pass, cowards like Jacksonville’s mayor will be pulling down statues left and right before July 1. However:

    1. Somewhere in Tallahassee, in a basement somewhere, is a statue to one of the founders of FSU, a statue to the grandson of Thomas Jefferson, put up by one university president, removed, put back up and then removed again by another university president at the insistence of a student organization that is now suspended from campus because of its antisemitism. The founder in question, owned slaves, like every other founder of the university. FSU now fnds itself in the position of being able to recognize any of the people who founded it.

    2. 2024 is Tallahassee’s bicentennial. Because of the cutbacks in local news, the Tallahassee Democrat has been rerunning history columns by one of its deceased columnists. One of those columns called for a statue to be erected to one of the founders of the city who—-surprise!—happened to be a slaveowner. After initially supporting the idea, the latest development is that the city will put a shapeless rock in a downtown park and all it a monumentt, because they are afraid that a statue would be destroyed. Both Tallahassee and FSU are afraid of their history.

    Rep. Dean’s bill or Sen. Martin’s might not be able to pull the Francis Eppes statue out of storage, but it could prevent the kind of cowardice that resulted in it being pulled down in the future. I do hope there is a provision in both bills that would prevent a government from giving away a statue to a private entity thus giving them the ability to sidestep the intent of the bill.

  • MH/Duuuval

    February 4, 2024 at 10:29 pm

    Typical Dee gambit: We’ll do it our way, regardless of the law, and then go to court and drag it out for a few years. By then, Dee will have moved on.

    Best bet for Rebbie Boys is to offer COJ $1 and then move it to Oceanway.

Comments are closed.


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