Ron DeSantis supports a bill preventing the removal of Confederate monuments and other memorials in Florida

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Confederate memorial
Protest against a Confederate memorial on the grounds of Hillsborough County administrative courthouse in Tampa, Florida. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (27 June 2017).

©2024 The News Service of Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday lent support to legislation that seeks to prevent the removal and destruction of historic monuments from public property.

While DeSantis said he had not seen House and Senate proposals (HB 395 and SB1122) on the issue, he said he is “100 percent against removing monuments.”

He cited a 2021 law that was designed to crack down on protests that turn violent.

“We created some protections when we did the anti-rioting legislation (in 2021), because people were trying to topple stuff. So, we added some penalties there,” DeSantis said. “But I think it’s totally appropriate for the Legislature to say, ‘You know what, we’re going to stop the madness.’”

DeSantis addressed the issue during an appearance in Jacksonville, amid a debate in the city about removing monuments erected to honor the Confederacy.

Mayor Donna Deegan in December ordered the removal of a “Women of the Southland” monument that had stood in Springfield Park since 1915.

“I heard people in Jacksonville want to take down Andrew Jackson,” DeSantis said. “What, are we going to rename the city? I mean, come on.”

The Senate bill would give the governor power to suspend or remove local officials who violate proposed state prohibitions on moving or destroying monuments.

Also, people who approve the removal or destruction could face restoration costs.

In some cases, the state would withhold arts, cultural, and historic preservation funding.

While the House bill wouldn’t give DeSantis the power to remove local officials from office, it would give people and groups standing to file civil lawsuits over monument removals or destruction.

The measure would also direct courts to invalidate local ordinances on displacing memorials.

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