Florida Senate - 2020 SB 1262 By Senator Bracy 11-01689-20 20201262__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots; 3 creating s. 16.63, F.S.; establishing the Ocoee 4 Election Day Riots Descendant Compensation Fund 5 Program within the Department of Legal Affairs; 6 specifying the purpose of the program; requiring the 7 department to accept and process applications for 8 payment of claims for compensation; requiring the 9 department to provide certain notice of the program; 10 specifying procedures and requirements regarding 11 applications for compensation; requiring the 12 department to approve applications for payment if 13 certain conditions are met, subject to certain 14 limitations; providing for contingent repeal; amending 15 s. 288.7102, F.S.; requiring the Department of 16 Economic Opportunity to prioritize certain 17 applications for the Black Business Loan Program; 18 directing the Commissioner of Education’s African 19 American History Task Force to determine ways in which 20 the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots may be included in 21 required instruction on African-American history; 22 requiring the task force to submit recommendations to 23 the commissioner and the State Board of Education by a 24 specified date; directing the Secretary of State to 25 take certain action regarding the inclusion of the 26 history of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots in museum 27 exhibits; directing the Secretary of Environmental 28 Protection to assess naming opportunities for state 29 parks, or a portion of a facility therein, in 30 recognizing victims of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day 31 Riots; authorizing the secretary to appoint a 32 committee to assist in assessing naming opportunities; 33 requiring the secretary to submit recommendations to 34 the Legislature under specified circumstances; 35 encouraging district school boards to assess naming 36 opportunities for school facilities in recognizing 37 victims of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots; 38 providing effective dates. 39 40 WHEREAS, in the decades following the conclusion of 41 Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws were enacted throughout the 42 southern United States, including Florida, which mandated 43 segregation and imposed numerous restrictions, such as the 44 imposition of poll taxes and literacy requirements, thereby 45 suppressing the ability of African Americans to participate in 46 the democratic process, and 47 WHEREAS, throughout the country, organizations such as the 48 Ku Klux Klan staged rallies, marches, and other demonstrations 49 in an effort to intimidate African Americans and any allies from 50 organizing and attempting to exercise the right to vote, and 51 WHEREAS, as the 1920 presidential election approached, 52 efforts were undertaken in Orange County by numerous 53 organizations and individuals, including Judge John M. Cheney 54 and two prominent African-American residents of Ocoee, Julius 55 “July” Perry and Moses Norman, to register African-American 56 voters to allow for their participation in the upcoming 57 election, and 58 WHEREAS, on November 2, 1920, as several African Americans 59 in Ocoee, including Moses Norman, unsuccessfully attempted to 60 vote on Election Day, violence ensued as a mob of approximately 61 100 white men formed and marched to Julius “July” Perry’s 62 residence, and proceeded to open gunfire as Julius “July” Perry 63 attempted to defend himself along with his property and family, 64 and 65 WHEREAS, after the Perry family eventually fled the 66 residence, Julius “July” Perry was soon arrested and 67 subsequently shot and lynched after the mob gained access to his 68 jail cell with the aid of local law enforcement, and 69 WHEREAS, the violence spread throughout the African 70 American community of Ocoee and upwards of 60 people are 71 estimated to have perished while dozens of homes, two churches, 72 and a lodge meeting hall were set ablaze and gunfire overtook 73 the community, and 74 WHEREAS, in the aftermath of the riots, nearly all African 75 American residents of the community were forced to flee, 76 abandoning their residences and property and relocating 77 elsewhere, and 78 WHEREAS, there is no record that state or local government 79 officials took any action to prevent the tragedy that occurred 80 in Ocoee, or reasonably investigated the matter in the riot’s 81 aftermath in an effort to bring the perpetrators of the incident 82 to justice or to allow the displaced African-American residents 83 to return to their homes and property, and 84 WHEREAS, in November 2018, the Ocoee City Commission 85 adopted a proclamation that acknowledged the acts of domestic 86 terror inflicted upon the African-American residents of Ocoee 87 and western Orange County on November 2, 1920, and required the 88 installation of a historical marker in a public space describing 89 the events of that day, and 90 WHEREAS, the Florida Legislature recognizes an obligation 91 to redress the injuries, damages, infringement of civil rights, 92 and loss of life that African-American residents sustained as a 93 result of the violence and destruction that occurred in Ocoee in 94 November 1920, NOW, THEREFORE, 95 96 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 97 98 Section 1. If SB ___ or similar legislation establishing 99 the Ocoee Election Day Riots Descendant Compensation Trust Fund 100 is adopted in the 2020 Regular Session or an extension thereof, 101 section 16.63, Florida Statutes, is created to read: 102 16.63 Ocoee Election Day Riots Descendant Compensation Fund 103 Program.— 104 (1) The Ocoee Election Day Riots Descendant Compensation 105 Fund Program is established in the Department of Legal Affairs. 106 The purpose of the program is to compensate direct descendants 107 of individuals who were killed, injured, or otherwise victimized 108 by the violence that took place at Ocoee, Florida, on November 109 2, 1920. 110 (2) The Department of Legal Affairs shall accept and 111 process applications for payment of claims for compensation 112 pursuant to this section. The department shall provide 113 reasonable notice of the availability of compensation, including 114 through Internet postings on the department’s website. 115 (3) A claim for compensation must be on forms approved by 116 the department and must include all of the following: 117 (a) The name and contact information of an applicant who is 118 submitting a claim for compensation. 119 (b) The name of the victim who was killed, injured, or 120 otherwise victimized as a result of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day 121 Riots for whom the applicant is seeking compensation on behalf 122 of. 123 (c) Reasonable proof establishing the applicant’s lineage 124 to an individual who was killed, injured, or otherwise 125 victimized as a result of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots, 126 including, but not limited to, census records. 127 (d) A statement that the applicant affirms that he or she 128 agrees not to seek a claim bill regarding the underlying 129 incident from the Legislature. 130 (4) Upon receipt and verification of a valid claim of 131 compensation, the department shall approve such application for 132 payment. The amount of compensation awarded may not exceed 133 $150,000 per individual who was killed, injured, or otherwise 134 victimized by the violence that took place at Ocoee. If multiple 135 descendants of a single individual apply for compensation on 136 behalf of that individual, the amount of compensation shall be 137 prorated among any eligible claimants. A descendant may not 138 receive compensation for more than one individual. 139 (5) This section is repealed July 1, 2024, unless the Ocoee 140 Election Day Riots Descendant Compensation Trust Fund 141 established pursuant to s. 16.631 is re-created by such date. 142 Section 2. Subsection (2) of section 288.7102, Florida 143 Statutes, is amended to read: 144 288.7102 Black Business Loan Program.— 145 (2) The department shall establish an application and 146 annual certification process for entities seeking funds to 147 participate in providing loans, loan guarantees, or investments 148 in black business enterprises pursuant to the Florida Black 149 Business Investment Act. The department shall process all 150 applications and recertifications submitted by June 1 on or 151 before July 31. The department shall prioritize any applications 152 for black business enterprises in areas directly impacted by the 153 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots so long as such entities meet the 154 other requirements established in this section. 155 Section 3. The Commissioner of Education’s African American 156 History Task Force is directed to examine ways in which the 157 history of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots may be included in 158 instruction on African-American history required pursuant to s. 159 1003.42(2)(h), Florida Statutes. The task force shall submit its 160 recommendations to the Commissioner of Education and the State 161 Board of Education by March 1, 2021. 162 Section 4. The Secretary of State is directed to: 163 (1) In coordination with the Division of Cultural Affairs 164 of the Department of State, determine ways in which the Museum 165 of Florida History and other state museums may promote the 166 history of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots through exhibits 167 and educational programs. 168 (2) Collaborate with the National Museum of African 169 American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution to 170 seek inclusion of the history of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day 171 Riots in the museum’s exhibits. 172 Section 5. The Secretary of Environmental Protection is 173 directed to assess if any state park, or a portion of or a 174 facility therein, may be named in recognition of any victim of 175 the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots. The secretary may appoint a 176 committee to assess naming opportunities. If a change to state 177 law is required in order to change the designation of a state 178 park, or a portion of or a facility therein, the secretary shall 179 submit any such recommendation to the President of the Senate 180 and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. 181 Section 6. District school boards are encouraged to assess 182 naming opportunities for school facilities in recognition of 183 victims of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots. 184 Section 7. Except as otherwise expressly provided in this 185 act, this act shall take effect July 1, 2020.