Florida Senate - 2020                               (NP)    SB 8
       By Senator Bracy
       11-00183A-20                                             20208__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of the descendants of victims of
    3         the 1920 Ocoee Election Day riots; requiring the
    4         Department of Law Enforcement to conduct an
    5         investigation regarding the 1920 Ocoee Election Day
    6         riots; appropriating funds to compensate direct
    7         descendants of individuals who were killed, injured,
    8         or otherwise victimized by the violence at Ocoee;
    9         specifying procedures, requirements, and limitations
   10         regarding applications for compensation; reverting
   11         unused appropriations to the General Revenue Fund;
   12         providing a limitation on the payment of attorney
   13         fees; providing an effective date.
   15         WHEREAS, in the decades following the conclusion of
   16  Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws were enacted throughout the
   17  southern United States, including Florida, which mandated
   18  segregation and imposed numerous restrictions, such as the
   19  imposition of poll taxes and literacy requirements, thereby
   20  suppressing the ability of African Americans to participate in
   21  the democratic process, and
   22         WHEREAS, throughout the country, organizations such as the
   23  Ku Klux Klan staged rallies, marches, and other demonstrations
   24  in an effort to intimidate African Americans and any allies from
   25  organizing and attempting to exercise the right to vote, and
   26         WHEREAS, as the 1920 presidential election approached,
   27  efforts were undertaken in Orange County by numerous
   28  organizations and individuals, including Judge John M. Cheney
   29  and two prominent African-American residents of Ocoee, Julius
   30  “July” Perry and Moses Norman, to register African-American
   31  voters to allow for their participation in the upcoming
   32  election, and
   33         WHEREAS, on November 2, 1920, as several African Americans
   34  in Ocoee, including Moses Norman, unsuccessfully attempted to
   35  vote on Election Day, violence ensued as a mob of approximately
   36  100 white men formed and marched to Julius “July” Perry’s
   37  residence, and who proceeded to open gunfire as Julius “July”
   38  Perry attempted to defend himself along with his property and
   39  family, and
   40         WHEREAS, after the Perry family eventually fled the
   41  residence, Julius “July” Perry was soon arrested and
   42  subsequently shot and lynched after the mob gained access to his
   43  jail cell with the aid of local law enforcement, and
   44         WHEREAS, the violence spread throughout the African
   45  American community of Ocoee and upwards of 60 people are
   46  estimated to have perished while dozens of homes, two churches,
   47  and a lodge meeting hall were set ablaze and gunfire overtook
   48  the community, and
   49         WHEREAS, in the aftermath of the riots, nearly all African
   50  American residents of the community were forced to flee,
   51  abandoning their residences and property and relocating
   52  elsewhere, and
   53         WHEREAS, there is no record that state or local government
   54  officials took any action to prevent the tragedy that occurred
   55  in Ocoee, or reasonably investigated the matter in the riot’s
   56  aftermath in an effort to bring the perpetrators of the incident
   57  to justice or to allow the displaced African-American residents
   58  to return to their homes and property, and
   59         WHEREAS, in November 2018, the Ocoee City Commission
   60  adopted a proclamation that acknowledged the acts of domestic
   61  terror inflicted upon the African-American residents of Ocoee
   62  and western Orange County on November 2, 1920, and required the
   63  installation of a historical marker in a public space describing
   64  the events of that day, and
   65         WHEREAS, the State of Florida recognizes an equitable
   66  obligation to equitably redress the injuries, damages,
   67  infringement of civil rights, and the loss of life that African
   68  American residents sustained as a result of the violence and
   69  destruction that occurred in Ocoee in November 1920, NOW,
   72  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   74         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   75  found and declared to be true.
   76         Section 2. The Department of Law Enforcement shall
   77  investigate the crimes committed in and around Ocoee in 1920 and
   78  report its findings to the Legislature.
   79         Section 3. The sum of $10 million is appropriated from the
   80  General Revenue Fund to the Office of the Attorney General for
   81  the relief of direct descendants of individuals who were killed,
   82  injured, or otherwise victimized by the violence that took place
   83  at Ocoee on November 2, 1920. An eligible individual must submit
   84  an application for compensation to the Attorney General no later
   85  than December 31, 2020. The Attorney General must provide
   86  reasonable notice of the availability of compensation throughout
   87  the applicable time period, including through Internet postings
   88  on the office’s website. Failure to submit an application for
   89  compensation by December 31, 2020, precludes an eligible
   90  individual from receiving any payment under this act. An
   91  individual seeking compensation must provide the Attorney
   92  General with reasonable proof establishing lineage to an
   93  individual who was killed, injured, or otherwise victimized by
   94  the violence at Ocoee. Upon receipt of reasonable proof of
   95  eligibility, the Attorney General must notify the Chief
   96  Financial Officer of the individual’s name, eligibility, and the
   97  amount of compensation to be awarded. The amount of compensation
   98  awarded may not exceed $150,000 per individual who was killed,
   99  injured, or otherwise victimized by the violence that took place
  100  at Ocoee. If multiple descendants of a single individual apply
  101  for compensation on behalf of that individual, the amount of
  102  compensation awarded shall be prorated among any eligible
  103  claimants. A descendant may not apply for compensation for more
  104  than one individual. Any funds that are appropriated pursuant to
  105  this section which are unused shall revert to the General
  106  Revenue Fund.
  107         Section 4. Any amount awarded under this act is intended to
  108  provide the sole compensation for all present and future claims
  109  arising out of the factual situation described in this act which
  110  resulted in injuries and damages to victims of the 1920 Election
  111  Day riots in and around Ocoee. The total amount paid for
  112  attorney fees relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent
  113  of the amount awarded under this act.
  114         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.