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Funding on the line under new Florida bill aimed at protecting historic monuments

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new bill filed by a local state representative would threaten local elected officials with removal from office if they remove historical monuments, including those to the Confederacy.

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Historical monuments would become permanent fixtures long into the future under new legislation filed by State Representative Dean Black (R-Yulee).

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The “Historical Monuments and Memorials Protection Act” would bar local governments from removing the any historic monuments, and even require them to restore any monuments taken down since 2017.

“The whole piece of legislation means to accomplish a particular good and that is to protect Florida history, because Florida history belongs to all Floridians and we need to put a stop the nonsense that’s happened over the past few years,” said Black.

Related Story: Florida bill expected to be filed for 2024 session would require monuments to be put back up

If passed, local officials who buck the prohibition could be removed from office by the Governor and local governments’ arts and culture funding would be cut off.

“The law stipulates that you’re only subject to removal if you violate this law and you’re supposed to follow the law,” said Black.

Jacksonville State Representative Angie Nixon called the legislation unconstitutional and racist, as the protections would extend to Confederate monuments, like the one removed from James Weldon Johnson Park this summer and the one that still stands in Springfield Park.

“This anti-Black rhetoric is what led to the killings, the brutal mass massacre that occurred in my district on August 26th,” said Nixon.

Related Story: Jacksonville group pushes Confederate monument debate following civil rights leader’s passing

Some local officials in Duval have expressed opposition as well, including Mayor Donna Deegan.

“This bill would be just another slap in the face to our Black community which has already endured so much. It’s an overreach and unconstitutional,” said Deegan in a statement.

But Black argued all historic monuments deserve protection.

“Don’t tear down someone’s story, tell yours,” said Black.

Nixon argued Black is hiding behind historical neutrality to shield what she believes is the true intent of his legislation.

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“I am trying to figure out why we want to keep up monuments in the first place, for people that lost the war and wanted to keep my community in chains. That is totally disrespectful,” said Nixon.

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