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As white nationalists converge, lawmakers propose removing confederate monuments and holidays

Gainesville SpencerAs police and protesters prepare today in Gainesville for white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak at the University of Florida, two state legislators, both Democrats, filed bills to remove the vestiges of the confederacy from Florida's statutes and public spaces.  

Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, filed HB 235 Thursday to remove from public property all monuments erected to memorialize members of the Confederate military or any other organization that espouses white supremacist or white separatist ideology.

“Who we once were cannot, and should not, continue to define who we are today as a state,” Jones said in a statement. “It is time that we assess this period in our history with the context it deserves and with the clear-eyed understanding that our ghosts are just that: spirits whose presence cannot continue to haunt us.”

Under his bill, the Department of Management Services would remove and relocate all monuments on public land to the Museum of Florida History by 2020.

Also on Thursday, Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, filed HB 277 to remove the birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis and Confederate Memorial Day from the list of legal holidays in Florida. 

“When I think of who should be honored with legal holidays, the types of people who come to mind are not those that cost millions of lives in the defense of slavery,” Moskowitz said in a statement. “I’m positive that celebrating racism shouldn’t be on the calendar each year.  It’s not erasing history to put it where it belongs; in a history book or a museum hall.”

Sen. Lauren Book is sponsoring the companion bill, SB 224, in the Senate.

For more information on Gainesville's reaction to Spencer's arrival, follow the Miami Herald's live feed here.  

Photo via Alex Harris, Miami Herald @harrisalexc

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