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Who gets credit? Jacksonville City Council dispute over two bills to stop antisemitic signs

There's support for the bills, but also arguing among city councilmembers over who will get credit. One city council member is asking for one bill to be withdrawn.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Two pieces of legislation --  one goal. Who will get the credit?

On Tuesday Jacksonville City Council is expected to vote on a bill to stop projections of antisemitic messages downtown. Two virtually identical bills to do this are on the agenda.

There's a lot of support for the bills, but also arguing among city councilmembers over who will get the credit. One city council member is asking for one of the bills to be withdrawn.

The bills read the same; they would prohibit unauthorized projections onto property that is not your own. 

City Council member LeAnna Cumber, who is running for mayor, and Council member Matt Carlucci introduced one bill. City Council President Terrance Freeman and a group of other council members introduced a virtually identical bill and held a press conference with the mayor and sheriff at about the same time as Cumber's scheduled press conference Thursday.

In a letter to Freeman and city council members, Carlucci scolds Freeman for supposedly requesting his bill have a lower number so that it is read before Cumber's bill in the city council meeting, though Cumber apparently introduced the idea first.

Carlucci's letter reads in part:

"This disregard for the integrity of Council processes and absence of professional courtesy sets a precedent which corrodes our trust in the process and removes the protection granted by 'first come, first serve' filing (see Rule 3.105), and introduces an unprecedented use of authority by a Council President."

Carlucci goes on to request the withdrawal of Freeman's bill. Freeman was asked about the two bills at his press conference Thursday.

"When things happen it shouldn't matter who gets the credit," Freeman said. "This is not a situation that is something that is uncommon for happening and hopefully, as the process that's happened in the past, one will join the other and it's one collective bill going forward."

Cumber was also asked about the two bills at her press conference Thursday.

"It would seem odd that my colleagues would vote down a bill that is so critical," Cumber said. "I think if that happens it's pure politics."

City council members moved quickly on the bills, making announcements about them just days after a photo of a swastika projected on the CSX building downtown circulated on social media. This happened after multiple antisemitic messages were projected on buildings elsewhere downtown in October. 

The city council has been criticized by people who want to see the Confederate monuments taken down because they moved so quickly on this issue while Confederate monuments have remained, despite protests, for years.

If one bill is passed, it will create an offense punishable with an up to a $2,000 fine, 60 days in jail and confiscation of any device and vehicle used in the projection.

Read the two bills here.

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