Florida Senate - 2021                                    SCR 244
       By Senator Book
       32-00526-21                                            2021244__
    1                    Senate Concurrent Resolution                   
    2         A concurrent resolution acknowledging the injustices
    3         perpetrated against the targets of the Florida
    4         Legislative Investigation Committee between 1956 and
    5         1965, and offering a formal and heartfelt apology to
    6         those whose lives, well-being, and livelihoods were
    7         damaged or destroyed by the activities and public
    8         pronouncements of those who served on the committee.
   10         WHEREAS, following a special session of the Florida
   11  Legislature in July 1956, the act establishing the Florida
   12  Legislative Investigation Committee became law, and
   13         WHEREAS, following its establishment, the committee, in
   14  conjunction with Tallahassee police, surveilled, harassed,
   15  intimidated, and arrested members of the Inter-Civic Council,
   16  students from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University,
   17  and other participants in the bus boycott and carpool network
   18  that began in May 1956 and continued until December 1956, and
   19         WHEREAS, on February 1, 1957, the committee held its first
   20  public hearing, questioning Virgil Hawkins, an African-American
   21  man who had been seeking admission to the University of Florida
   22  law school since 1949, as well as National Association for the
   23  Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attorneys Francisco
   24  Rodriguez and Horace Hill, claiming that the NAACP was violating
   25  the law by soliciting plaintiffs for desegregation lawsuits, and
   26         WHEREAS, on February 25, 1957, the committee began public
   27  hearings in Miami, demanding that the local NAACP branch
   28  surrender all of its records, including membership lists, and
   29  claiming that the branch had been infiltrated by current and
   30  former communists, and
   31         WHEREAS, during 1957 and 1958, the committee devoted itself
   32  to besmirching NAACP members as criminals and communist
   33  sympathizers in order to slow or halt their efforts to
   34  desegregate Florida schools and public spaces, and
   35         WHEREAS, in November and December of 1958, the committee’s
   36  chief investigator began an inquiry into alleged homosexual
   37  activity by faculty, staff, and students at the University of
   38  Florida (UF) in Gainesville; allowed officers of the UF police
   39  department to entrap and question without legal counsel those
   40  suspected of such activity; and threatened and coerced those
   41  individuals with a public hearing or perjury charges into
   42  confessing and identifying others as alleged homosexuals, and
   43         WHEREAS, the committee continued the UF and Gainesville
   44  investigations into 1959, having entrapped and intimidated
   45  dozens of individuals on and off campus, interrogating them in
   46  motel rooms and basements, resulting in the firing of 14 faculty
   47  and staff at UF, and
   48         WHEREAS, in the spring of 1959, the committee reported to
   49  the Florida Legislature that homosexual professors were
   50  recruiting students into “homosexual practices,” and they in
   51  turn were becoming teachers in Florida’s public school system
   52  and recruiting even younger students, and
   53         WHEREAS, the committee began 4 years of statewide
   54  investigations into alleged homosexual activity by public school
   55  teachers, administrators, and students, working with local law
   56  enforcement agencies and employing the same tactics used at UF,
   57  and cooperating with the State Board of Education to revoke
   58  individuals’ teaching certificates, and
   59         WHEREAS, in the spring of 1961, the committee began an
   60  inquiry into alleged homosexual activity, liberal teaching
   61  methods, curricula, and policies at the University of South
   62  Florida (USF) in Tampa, and
   63         WHEREAS, the committee investigator and attorney, together
   64  with local law enforcement, questioned USF faculty, staff, and
   65  students in a motel room without appropriate legal counsel, and
   66  gathered information about the allegedly anti-Christian, pro
   67  integration, and pro-communist slant of reading assignments,
   68  classroom lectures, and invited campus speakers, and
   69         WHEREAS, the committee held public hearings to question USF
   70  faculty and administrators about the content of their courses
   71  and policies related to hiring faculty and inviting speakers in
   72  an effort to discredit them as atheists, integrationists, and
   73  communist sympathizers, damaging individuals’ careers and the
   74  state’s national standing in higher education, and
   75         WHEREAS, in 1964 and 1965, the committee published
   76  misleading and inflammatory reports about homosexuals and civil
   77  rights activists in Florida, drawing continued unfavorable
   78  national attention and perpetuating falsehoods against residents
   79  of this state, and
   80         WHEREAS, the committee spent 9 years at the expense of the
   81  taxpayers of this state using unconstitutional and unjust
   82  methods to discredit and combat legal, peaceful desegregation
   83  efforts; to destroy or otherwise jeopardize the livelihoods and
   84  reputations of educators, administrators, and other
   85  professionals in Florida’s public schools and universities; and
   86  to create a climate of fear that caused pain and suffering among
   87  vulnerable residents and made Florida a national symbol of
   88  intolerance, NOW, THEREFORE,
   90  Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of Florida, the House
   91  of Representatives Concurring:
   93         That the Legislature acknowledges the injustices
   94  perpetrated against the targets of the Florida Legislative
   95  Investigation Committee between 1956 and 1965 and offers a
   96  formal and heartfelt apology to those whose lives, well-being,
   97  and livelihoods were damaged or destroyed by the activities and
   98  public pronouncements of those who served on the committee.