Florida Senate - 2024                                   SCR 1438
       By Senator Book
       35-00463-24                                           20241438__
    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  College of Law since 1949, as well as National Association for
   23  the 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 in Gainesville; allowed officers of the University of
   39  Florida Police Department to entrap and question without legal
   40  counsel those suspected of such activity; and threatened and
   41  coerced those individuals with a public hearing or perjury
   42  charges into confessing and identifying others as alleged
   43  homosexuals, and
   44         WHEREAS, the committee continued the University of Florida
   45  investigations into 1959, having entrapped and intimidated
   46  dozens of individuals on and off campus, interrogating them in
   47  motel rooms and basements, resulting in the firing of 14 faculty
   48  members and staff at the University of Florida, and
   49         WHEREAS, in the spring of 1959, the committee reported to
   50  the Florida Legislature that homosexual professors were
   51  recruiting students into “homosexual practices,” and that those
   52  students were in turn becoming teachers in Florida’s public
   53  school system and recruiting even younger students, and
   54         WHEREAS, the committee began 4 years of statewide
   55  investigations into alleged homosexual activity by public school
   56  teachers, administrators, and students, working with local law
   57  enforcement agencies and employing the same tactics used at the
   58  University of Florida and cooperating with the State Board of
   59  Education to revoke individuals’ teaching certificates, and
   60         WHEREAS, in the spring of 1961, the committee began an
   61  inquiry into alleged homosexual activity, liberal teaching
   62  methods, curricula, and policies at the University of South
   63  Florida in Tampa, and
   64         WHEREAS, the committee investigator and attorney, together
   65  with local law enforcement, questioned University of South
   66  Florida faculty, staff, and students in a motel room without
   67  appropriate legal counsel and gathered information about the
   68  allegedly anti-Christian, pro-integration, and pro-communist
   69  slant of reading assignments, classroom lectures, and invited
   70  campus speakers, and
   71         WHEREAS, the committee held public hearings to question the
   72  University of South Florida faculty and administrators about the
   73  content of their courses and policies related to hiring faculty
   74  and inviting speakers in an effort to discredit them as
   75  atheists, integrationists, and communist sympathizers, damaging
   76  individuals’ careers and this state’s national standing in
   77  higher education, and
   78         WHEREAS, in 1964 and 1965, the committee published
   79  misleading and inflammatory reports about homosexuals and civil
   80  rights activists in Florida, drawing continued unfavorable
   81  national attention and perpetuating falsehoods against residents
   82  of this state, and
   83         WHEREAS, at the expense of the taxpayers of this state, the
   84  committee spent 9 years using unconstitutional and unjust
   85  methods to discredit and combat legal, peaceful desegregation
   86  efforts; to destroy or otherwise jeopardize the livelihoods and
   87  reputations of educators, administrators, and other
   88  professionals in Florida’s public schools and universities; and
   89  to create a climate of fear that caused pain and suffering among
   90  vulnerable residents and made Florida a national symbol of
   91  intolerance, NOW, THEREFORE,
   93  Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of Florida, the House
   94  of Representatives Concurring:
   96         That the Legislature acknowledges the injustices
   97  perpetrated against the targets of the Florida Legislative
   98  Investigation Committee between 1956 and 1965 and offers a
   99  formal and heartfelt apology to those whose lives, well-being,
  100  and livelihoods were damaged or destroyed by the activities and
  101  public pronouncements of those who served on the committee.