A Republican state senator from Fleming Island is raising concerns about “vile” and “bigoted” comments surrounding a proposal to protect historical monuments.
Sen. Jennifer Bradley was among members of the Senate Community Affairs Committee who were upset Wednesday because speakers supporting the bill cited a need to protect “white culture” and “white supremacy.”
“You are the reason I’m vacillating on whether or not to even vote yes, because it looks like I endorse your hatred,” Bradley told the speakers. “And I do not.”
Bradley nevertheless voted yes as the Republican-controlled committee approved the bill 5-0. Democrats on the committee walked out before Tuesday’s vote, a reaction to the public comments.
Under the proposal (SB 1122), monuments and memorials on public property would be protected and people and groups would have legal standing to file civil lawsuits over their removal or destruction by local officials. The measure also would direct courts to invalidate local ordinances on displacing memorials.
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo on Wednesday raised questions about the fate of the Senate measure.
“There are problems with the bill,” said Passidomo, R-Naples. “More than that, there are problems in perceptions among our caucus, on all sides. So, I’m going to take that into consideration. I’m not going to bring a bill to the floor that is so abhorrent to everybody.”
Senate sponsor Jonathan Martin, R-Fort Myers, argued that his bill and intentions have been mischaracterized as protecting the Confederacy.
Jacksonville remains a focal point of debate about removing Confederate monuments, after Mayor Donna Deegan in December ordered the removal of a “Women of the Southland” monument that had stood in Springfield Park since 1915.
During an appearance last week in Jacksonville, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was “100% against removing monuments.”