Democrats re­new call for spe­cial ses­sion on statue

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - LOCAL - By Dan Sweeney Staff writer

Adding to de­bates across the South about tak­ing down Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments, all 11 Democrats who rep­re­sent Florida in Congress is­sued another call Wed­nes­day for the Florida Leg­is­la­ture to hold a one­day spe­cial ses­sion to re­place a statue of Con­fed­er­ate Gen. Ed­mund Kirby Smith that rep­re­sents Florida in the Na­tional Stat­u­ary Hall in Wash­ing­ton D.C.

U.S. Rep. Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz, D-We­ston, had pre­vi­ously called for the Leg­is­la­ture to con­duct a spe­cial ses­sion on the is­sue when it’s al­ready in Tal­la­has­see for pre-ses­sion com­mit­tee weeks, which be­gin in mid-Septem­ber.

But the new re­quest comes in let­ters to Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Cor­co­ran, R-Land O’Lakes and Se­nate Pres­i­dent Joe Ne­gron, R-Stu­art, signed by all 11 Democrats who rep­re­sent Florida in Congress, South Florid­i­ans Wasser­man Schultz, Ted Deutch of Boca Ra­ton, Al­cee Hast­ings of Del­ray Beach, Fred­er­ica Wilson of Mi­ami, and Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach.

“We must de­nounce sym­bols of white supremacy and stand up for love and com­pas­sion — not just with our words, but with our deeds,” the let­ter reads. “No fam­ily vis­it­ing our na­tion’s Capi­tol should have to ex­plain to their child that the statue rep­re­sent­ing our state hon­ors some­one who fought for a phi­los­o­phy built on ha­tred, in­equal­ity and op­pres­sion.”

Each state gets two stat­ues in the hall, and Florida’s in­clude Smith and air-con­di­tion­ing pioneer John Gor­rie.

The Leg­is­la­ture al­ready voted to re­move the statue in 2016, but could not agree on a re­place­ment in this year’s leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

in­clud­ing

The Florida Se­nate passed a res­o­lu­tion to re­place Smith with a statue of Mary McLeod Bethune, the African-Amer­i­can ed­u­ca­tor who founded what even­tu­ally be­came Bethune-Cook­man Univer­sity. The House tried to move a bill re­plac­ing Smith with a statue of Ever­glades con­ser­va­tion­ist Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas, but the bill failed to pass.

A spe­cial ses­sion can be called by the gov­er­nor or by the lead­ers of both cham­bers of the Leg­is­la­ture. But after Wasser­man Schultz’s ini­tial re­quest on Aug. 15, both Scott and Cor­co­ran said they will not call a spe­cial ses­sion for the statue’s re­moval, but will in­stead leave it to the 2018 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, which be­gins in Jan­uary.

Bills have al­ready been filed in both houses to re­place the Con­fed­er­ate gen­eral statue with a statue of Bethune, the daugh­ter of freed slaves.

AMY BETH BEN­NETT/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Con­struc­tion con­tin­ues at the Au­berge Beach Res­i­dences and Spa, a lux­ury de­vel­op­ment on the Fort Laud­erdale beach­front.

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