City Council to consider 2 identical bills to ban projecting unwanted messages on property

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Two identical bills are set to appear on Tuesday night’s City Council agenda to address a series of hate messages that surfaced recently in Jacksonville.

The bills do the same thing: prohibit any message being projected onto someone else’s building or property without permission.

The most recent hate message that sparked 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 answer seemed unanimous: pure and simple condemnation of the members of the Council.

RELATED: City leaders are proposing several bills to stop hate and anti-Semitism messages in Jacksonville

“We get all these hate messages in all of our buildings. It’s just disgusting and it’s time to stop it,’ councilor Rory Diamond previously said.

“My thoughts are like everyone else,” Councilman Matt Carlucci said. “They’re sick – well, they’re cowards.”

“We’re going to call it what it is, and we’re not going to allow that to happen in our city anymore. Period,” said Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber.

But council is split on which of two bills filed should pass: one filed by Cumber and Carlucci or one filed by Diamond, City Council Speaker Terrance Freeman and several others.

They are word for word identical – defining “projections of text, graphics, logos or artwork onto a building, structure or other location (including public areas) without the consent of the owner or the person who controls the building, structure, or space” as flails 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 confiscated for the benefit of the city.

Neither bill specifically mentions hate speech – and the creators say that because they are content neutral, they would not infringe on free speech.

Council members will discuss bills at the Tuesday evening meeting, which begins at 5 p.m.

To take part ?

City council members seem to take sides, even on an issue they all say they agree on.

Carlucci attended the announcement of his and Cumber’s bill outside the CSX building and has since sent a letter complaining that Council rules had been circumvented and disrespect shown to the other members when the other bill is tabled.

Part of it (in full at the bottom of this section) says: “It’s a disappointment to see Council members undermining the work of others, especially on an issue of such importance to our city.”

Later, said Carlucci, “In the spirit of professional courtesy and political sense, I respectfully request the withdrawal (of Bill) 2023-0044.”

Freeman led a press conference on the same day as Cumber’s press conference last week and briefly touched on dueling bills.

“We have a problem that was impacting our city. We now have a process and a plan to fix it, and it’s going to be fixed,” Freeman said. “Who gets the credit shouldn’t matter. That shouldn’t be the story. The story should be that we are not, as a city, we are not going to defend hate speech as acceptable in our city. And that is what is most important to me as president.

Freeman responded to a request for comment Monday night with the following statement about Carlucci’s letter:

“It’s too bad that in a moment of unity, with the mayor, sheriff and 13 of my colleagues rallying to support Bill 2023-44, Mr. Carlucci chose to play politics. We should focus on condemning anti-Semitism and standing up for our Jewish neighbors – not self-righteous demagogy about who gets credit for what.

It’s unclear what will happen Tuesday night when the bills are read and potentially voted on.

Carlucci’s full letter reads:

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.

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.

Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4JAX – All Rights Reserved.

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City Council to consider 2 identical bills to ban projecting unwanted messages on property

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