Florida Lawmaker Says Confederate Statues Should Be Honored Like MLK Memorials

Florida Rep. Mike Hill
Florida Rep. Mike Hill Florida House of Representatives
Criticizing Mike Hill for being Mike Hill is basically futile at this point. He's a wingnut who once joked about killing LGBTQ people, yet the Pensacola state representative still kept his job. Yelling at him, clearly, will not stop him from being a lunatic.

But it's at least worthwhile to make a public record of his insane comments, and he made quite a doozy yesterday. Hill, who is black yet has repeatedly tried to prevent Confederate monuments from being taken down, said statues and memorials honoring the slave-owning Confederate States of America should be held in the same regard as those honoring fallen Vietnam War veterans and, astoundingly, those dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., because nothing means anything anymore.

Hill sits on the Florida House Judiciary Committee, which yesterday heard a bill that would ratchet up civil penalties for anyone caught defacing a state monument. The bill listed only a few monuments that would receive those protections, including the state Holocaust and slavery memorials. During the debate period, Tallahassee state Rep. Ramon Alexander said he wanted to vote the bill down because he was worried it could open the door to state or local lawmakers using it as an excuse to protect Confederate monuments.

When Hill got his turn to speak, he made more or less the same argument. He said he was upset the measure didn't include explicit protections for monuments to the Confederacy and said he would like to protect a 40-foot monument in Pensacola erected in the 1800s by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which many historians consider to have been a white-supremacist group.

"To me, I believe that that should be honored just as much as our Vietnam Memorial, as our General 'Chappie' James bust, as our Martin Luther King bust," Hill said from the dais. "And I believe that it should be protected —"

Hill didn't get to finish his thought. Alexander, who is also black, began yelling in anger. Hill started laughing.

"I am so offended right now," Alexander said. "I know I'm out of order, but I am so offended right now."
When Hill finally got his chance to continue, he said he doesn't think the bill "does enough" to protect Confederate monuments. The bill eventually passed through the committee with a favorable recommendation.

This is not the first time Hill has stuck out his neck to defend slaveowners. In 2018, after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to a renewed push to remove Confederate monuments in America, activists targeted the 30-plus such memorials that sit in public spaces in Florida. In response, an incensed Hill filed a (failed) measure that would have illegalized the removal of any monument to slaveholders — or even any image of the Confederate flag.

Hill has repeatedly said he's simply trying to preserve history, but he has also conspicuously heaped praise on Confederate soldiers. During his last campaign, Hill stood by a Confederate monument in Pensacola and stated on Facebook Live that the statue ensured the "unchallenged devotion and matchless heroism shall continue to be the wonder and inspiration of the ages.” 
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Jerry Iannelli is a staff writer for Miami New Times. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. He moved to South Florida in 2015.
Contact: Jerry Iannelli