First black state rep from Florida panhandle since Civil War proposes law to protect Confederate memorials
Florida state Rep. Mike Hill (R-Pensacola). Image via screengrab.

A black Republican lawmaker in Florida just filed a bill to make it illegal to remove Confederate memorials, symbols and names in the state -- and would make the intentional damaging of any such memorial a felony.

The Broward-Palm Beach New Times reported that Rep. Mike Hill (R-Pensacola) is opposed to the idea that Confederate General Robert E. Lee was merely "some racist" and said the leader was "a gentleman, a Christian, and a man of great valor who should be revered."

Best known for trying to get Donald Trump's pickaxed Hollywood Walk of Fame star moved to Pensacola, Hill is also the Panhandle's first black state representative since the Civil War, the report noted.

"It will not change any person's life today by tearing down a Confederate monument or tearing down a statue or tearing down a cross," the Pensacola Republican told the New Times. "It will not change any person's life by doing that. What it will do is prevent someone from learning the history of why it was there in the first place."

The lawmaker who was slammed by his local Republican Party for running a "deceitful" and "sexist" campaign against GOP primary challenger Rebekah Bydlak contends that the Civil War was mostly about money, states' rights and the preservation of a certain "lifestyle."

"Slavery was a part of it," Hill admitted to the newspaper. "And we as a nation overcame that; we fought a terrible war — over 600,000 people died — so that we could rid this nation of slavery."

"I think that is something that we shouldn't erase or try to run away from," he added. "That is something that we should understand, know and be proud of, that we were a nation that did that."