Florida House bill would protect ‘Soldiers’ and Heroes’ Monuments’

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Whether a Confederate statue should remain or be removed is an ongoing debate, but a new bill filed in the Florida House of Representatives would protect it.

If the bill passes, statues like the bust of Robert E. Lee in Lee County will have new protections from people who are pushing for leaders to take it down.

“The arguments are, ‘Oh it’s history,’ and ‘Oh, it’s about slavery and racial division,’” FGCU Professor Pam Seay said.

So, should it stay or should it go? Seay said the answer may not be up to the people.

“Anywhere there is some kind of historic monument that deals with the military or some other event including the Civil War, it would be protected under this bill,” Seay said.

Rep. Mike Hill (Fla-Rep.), who represents House District 1, introduced the “Soldiers’ and Heroes’ Monument and Memorial Protections Act in Tallahassee. HB 97 would protect all war memorials and monuments from getting moved. As part of the bill, any crime against the protected remembrances would be a third-degree felony.

There are those who are against the terms introduced in the bill.

“I do believe they should remove that statue because of the history behind it,” Britney Castor said. “I don’t agree why they should keep that here for us. Like people of my background, we don’t necessarily like it being there for us.”

The proposed bill said a monument may only be removed if it needs to be refurbished, and it may only be relocated if the public property it is located is sold.

Seay said the decision should be up to local government; however, the bill gives the power to the state.

“This does deserve attention,” Seay said. “And I think this brings it to the floor one more time.”

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