fightin' words

The Charlottesville Effect

Race and reckoning in #JaxPol

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Anna Brosche is out of the spotlight for the time being, her City Council presidency over and nary even a committee chair now.

Yet she’s still moving the local debate, as she mulls running for mayor against Lenny Curry and his machine. Consider her travelogue tweets from this weekend.

“On our way home from Auburn, we headed over to Montgomery to experience the @eji_org @LegacyMuseum and @MemPeaceJustice. Pictures not allowed in the museum; words cannot express the sobering reality of our history of slavery, lynching, and injustice in America…. The Legacy Museum is in the area of downtown where slaves were sold; in a significant slave business district. The National Memorial is not far from the museum, and is at a site where public housing previously existed.”

These tweets were significant, given a bill Brosche pushed that is currently in cold storage, courtesy of current Council President Aaron Bowman.

Bill 2018-420 would “claim [the] Duval County Memorial Monument from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Alabama and […] install the monument in Hemming Park to commemorate the county’s lynching victims.”

Bowman stalled out discussion with a committee to mull “historical remembrance.” In the mix are Greg Anderson, Sam Newby, Reggie Gaffney, Tommy Hazouri, and Terrance Freeman.

It’s interesting how timing works out for these things. I write this a few days after the one-year anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In the wake of that, Brosche invested the full power of her council presidency into a radical call for change that thus far has gone nowhere: “an inventory of all Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers on public property … to develop an appropriate plan of action to relocate Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers….”

“Upon completion of the inventory, I intend to propose legislation to move Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers from public property to museums and educational institutions where they can be respectfully preserved and historically contextualized,” Brosche wrote.

Though the Jacksonville Civic Council’s Ed Burr saw fit to “commend Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council President Brosche for taking the lead to thoughtfully consider removal of Confederate monuments from local public property” (Curry didn’t take the lead there, we should note), nothing came of it.

Soon enough, Hurricane Irma blew the issue out of the news altogether.

Bowman’s committee will run right up to the 2019 elections, in which the great unresolved mystery will be whether Brosche or Garrett Dennis runs for mayor against Curry, who has almost $2 million banked even as he continues to run ads for his re-election. One of them almost certainly has to run for mayor, and if it’s Brosche, it will be up to someone else to carry her bill next council year, when about half the body will be newly elected.

It remains to be seen how woke the newly elected members will be—the smart money roots the vast majority of them in the current traditions of boosterism, devoted more strongly to extending the brand and vision of Jacksonville’s business class than any tangible reform (beyond an increase in surveillance technologies in crime hot zones).

Make book on this: It is as certain that a lynching memorial will not be in their campaign literature as it is that the pocks and crannies in their faces will be airbrushed into anodyne, reassuring smoothness.

In related news, the NFL is back—and so is the tradition of Jacksonville Jaguars players stoking controversy by thumbing their noses at the ritualization of the thoroughly corporatized version of patriotism the league pushes.

Leonard Fournette, Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith and T.J. Yeldon all stayed in the locker room during the anthem at the first preseason game. Yeldon told WJXT he “just didn’t want to come out.”

What do you do, Jaguars fans? POTUS thinks these players should be suspended without pay. Ready to go to war without Ramsey locking down a side of the field, and without your top two running backs? Does the Yahoo Brigade gear up for one more set of photo ops, ginning up the outrage machine anew to blow up all the corporate news comment threads?

It would be interesting if players were to play in the local political process the way Shad Khan does. Shad has played in about half the city council races already, as well as in the mayor’s race, and expect that those donations are seen as good-faith relationship builders.

Players, even those who are going to be here through more than one contract, don’t play in the local process. The closest thing we see to that is former Jag Tony Boselli working with Susie Wiles at lobbying powerhouse Ballard Partners.

They could do more. Wouldn’t it be interesting if players started “chirping,” as the kids say, about matters of local politics? And started backing candidates?

Could it change the game?

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