Letter: Will Rep Stevenson protect our local history?

Letter: Will Rep Stevenson protect our local history?

Lance Thate, Chairman
St Augustine Tea Party

Special to Historic City News

It’s easy to take for granted our history in St, Augustine – after all its all around us. From the Father Lopez memorial to the Flagler Memorial, the Ponce De Leon Memorial and many more that are on display for residents and visitors to see.

But as the First City, these treasures are ours, but out in the public they are vulnerable to the wave of historical “eracism” that is sweeping the nation, especially the awful images of vandalism that we have seen both on public and private memorials.

One that was particularly shocking to me was a memorial to Christopher Columbus, with red blood-like paint poured from head to toe of Columbus’ robes.  Imagine waking one day to find St. Augustine’s public historical art works victimized in this war on history?  Sure, you can try to clean it up, but what about the cost?  Will it be fully repaired? Will it be targeted a second time like so many are?

One solution that I like is stiffening penalties for desecration of our public memorials, and a pending bill in the Florida legislature would do just that.  House Bill 1251 was introduced by a US Coast Guard veteran from Ft. Myers, Spencer Roach.  A companion bill was introduced by Marine Corps. Veteran Victor Torres from Kissimmee. 

The senate bill passed its first committee in Tallahassee unanimously on Monday, but the house bill is awaiting Representative Stevenson’s decision to put the bill on the agenda.  My question is why wouldn’t she?

The benefits are endless and there is no downside that I can see. Why wouldn’t you want to put up a shield of deterrent around our historic memorials in St. Augustine?  With the numerous visitors and the easy ingress and egress, a vandal could easily hit several sites undetected and be on their way down the Interstate. But with stiffer penalties, they may think twice about doing it in our town, and in our state.

Yes, this is a good bill, and Representative Stevenson can only serve her constituents by hearing the bill and passing it out of her committee.