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Passage of bill combating messages of hate reinvigorates debate over Confederate monuments

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville City Council has passed a bill Tuesday night making it illegal to project messages on private and public property without the permission of the owner.

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The legislation comes in response to the antisemitic messages that have plagued the city in recent months, but ahead of the vote, many questioned why council moved so fast on this issue, but not other symbols many see as hateful.

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It’s been more than two years since Mayor Lenny Curry vowed to remove the city’s two remaining Confederate monuments.

After antisemitic messages were projected on TIAA Bank Field and other buildings throughout the city, city council put forth not one, but two bills aimed at putting the practice to an end.

Related Story: Jewish community reacts to antisemitic message shown across a portion of TIAA Bank Field

But for groups like Take Em Down Jax and the Northside Coalition, the quick action had them scratching their heads.

“Antisemitism and racism is the same,” Joe Ross Sr. with the Northside Coalition said.

The groups have been pushing for the removal of the city’s last two Confederate monuments for years-monuments they feel represent white supremacy.

Related Story: What’s next for Confederate monuments in the City of Jacksonville?

“What is the difference between hate speech that is projected on a building and hate speech that is in a structure?” LaShonda Holloway, a former candidate for CD 4 who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, asked.

Council President Terrance Freeman vowed to address the monument issue back in December.

“There will be some movement and there are some conversations and maybe legislation passed to handle this discussion of Confederate monuments,” Council President Freeman said during a December 23rd press availability.

He doubled down this past Thursday, urging the public to ‘stand by’.

“It’s a perfect picture of hypocrisy,” Ben Frazier, head of the Northside Coalition, said.

Frazier said he plans to hold the Council President to his word.

“I think it’s going to come up because we are going to press the issue. We are going to continue with our direct action, civil disobedience and if it means me going back to jail or staying in jail then that’s what we’re going to do,” Frazier said.

The bill aimed at combating messages of hate was approved on an 18-1 vote.

The lone no vote came from Councilmember Brenda Priestly Jackson (D-District 10), who also removed her co-sponsorship from the legislation, arguing the council has a double standard when it comes to the issue of Confederate monuments.

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“We can work together and do what we want when it’s important for us to do it, but we can ignore other things for years or months and that is not fair or just colleagues. It’s not. Everybody in Jacksonville has to matter,” Priestly Jackson said.

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