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JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – The Jacksonville City Council on Tuesday approved legislation prohibiting any message being projected onto someone’s building or property without permission.
City Council’s agenda included two identical bills that were created in response to a series of hate messages that recently surfaced in Jacksonville.
The most recent hate message that prompted quick response from council members was a swastika and the outline of an anti-Semitic cartoon apparently displayed on the CSX building during a Jaguars game. The image was seen in a photo that has been circulating on social media.
The council’s response seemed unanimous – an outright condemnation of council members. But council was split on which of two bills should pass, the one introduced by Councilor LeAnna Cumber and Councilor Matt Carlucci or the one introduced by Councilor Rory Diamond, City Council Speaker Terrance Freeman and several others.
RELATED: Council members appear to take sides on anti-Semitism bill – an issue they say they agree on
They were word for word identical – placing “projections of text, graphics, logos or artwork onto a building, structure or any other location (including public areas) without the owner’s consent or the person in control of the building, structure or space” as plagues and graffiti, and making violations a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days and a fine of at least $2,000 $ Any equipment or vehicle used in the crime will be seized by the sheriff’s office and forfeited to the city.
Notably, neither bill specifically mentioned hate speech – and the creators say that because they are content neutral, they would not infringe on free speech.
RELATED: City leaders are proposing several bills to stop hate and anti-Semitism messages in Jacksonville
The bill that passed was the version presented by Freeman, Salem, Newby, Diamond, Pittman, Clark-Murray and Howland. The vote was 18 to 1, and Brenda Priestly Jackson was the only one to vote “no”.
Council then voted to withdraw the other bill.
Miriam Feist of the Jewish Federation and Foundation said she was relieved the city was taking action.
“We are excited about the emergency bill,” Feist said. “This marks the first step in saying that our city will not tolerate hate speech of any kind.”
Not far enough?
Some citizens, while supporting the sentiment of the bills proposed by the city council, do not believe that the efforts are going far enough.
A local group of local advocates and activists, led by Ben Frazier’s Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, said “city officials should act now to stamp out all public displays of racial and cultural hatred in Jacksonville.”
They want not only a ban on projections on public buildings but the removal of Confederate monuments from the city.
The group includes 904ward, the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Northeast Florida, Leadership is for Everyone, Inc. and OneJax.
“I think this is a great time for Jacksonville where we say we don’t want these statues, but we can take a step forward and also say we don’t want these statues either,” Kimberly said. Allen, with 904ward.
They issued a statement on the matter:
We welcome all efforts to ban the flow of hate messages on buildings and banners in the sky. But there is still a lot to do. We encourage City Council members to take a brave stand and now reintroduce legislation to remove Confederate monuments from public ownership. This action is long overdue and represents the proverbial box that has been thrown off the road for far too long! Hypocrisy is not beautiful. All symbols of racism and hate must be removed and banned in our city.+
“Confederate monuments represent racial hatred, racism and white supremacy,” said Dr. Rudy Jamison of the LIFE organization.
“With the impending passage of a bill to combat racial hatred, the city council is taking steps in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go,” said Dr. Kim Allen of the 904ward. “Let’s continue to show the city, the state and the nation what kind of community we are by taking another bold step to remove Confederate monuments.”
“The Jewish Federation and Foundation of Northeast Florida and the Jewish community as a whole condemn any action, speech or character that evokes or promotes hatred or prejudice,” said Mariam Feist of the Federation and Foundation. Jews from northeast Florida.
“It’s too much conflict and division in Duval. What we need now is racial healing and reconciliation,” said Reverend Kyle Reece of OneJax.
The council should have the political courage to remove the monuments from the public domain once and for all. The Council should not condemn anti-Semitic messages on the one hand; while ignoring the racist messages projected by Confederate monuments,” Frazier said.
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City Council approves legislation to ban projecting unwanted messages on property
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