Capitol Alert

California bill would ban Confederate names on schools, public property

Activists gather around the Robert E. Lee statute at Lee Park chanting the names of Civil War era activists Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Dallas.
Activists gather around the Robert E. Lee statute at Lee Park chanting the names of Civil War era activists Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Dallas. AP

A new bill in the California Legislature would prohibit using the names of Confederate elected and military leaders on state and local property.

Senate Bill 539, introduced by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, would strip the name of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from at least two California schools by Jan. 1, 2017. Glazer says he hopes it might also remove commemorative plaques placed in honor of Confederates throughout the state. The bill’s ban would “include, but not be limited to, the name of an elected leader or a senior military officer of the Confederacy.”

“These schools, these memorials have been around for a long time, and I think that when you have shocking events like what happened in South Carolina, it does make you reflect and think,” Glazer said. He said the bill would be a step toward preventing hate crimes like the shooting in Charlestown, and also “make it clear that we think that the Confederacy and what it stood for is antithetical to everything we are as Californians.”

Of the two schools identified, one, an elementary school in Long Beach, has reportedly been petitioned by a local policy organization to change its name. The other, Lee Elementary in San Diego, has been called on to change its name by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego. Gonzalez’s office has planned a town hall on the topic for July 21.

The bill follows SB 2444 , signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, which prohibited the state from selling items with the Confederate flag on them. That bill passed with three no votes in the Assembly and Senate combined, and two of those legislators are no longer in office. No official opposition was recorded against that bill.

Andrew Holzman: 916-326-5545, @andrewlholzman

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