Capitol Alert

Fort Bragg may get reprieve from anti-Confederate bill

Cate Hawthorne of Liquid Fusion Kayaking paddles through the Noyo River marina in Fort Bragg in 2012
Cate Hawthorne of Liquid Fusion Kayaking paddles through the Noyo River marina in Fort Bragg in 2012 Sacramento Bee file

The mayor of Fort Bragg, a small town on the Mendocino County coast, said Wednesday he has received assurances that legislation barring the names of Confederate leaders on public facilities would not force the town to change its name.

Mayor Dave Turner said he contacted the state senator who represents the North Coast, Healdsburg Democrat Mike McGuire, and was assured that the bill’s provisions would not be applied to city names.

He acted in response to a Sacramento Bee story Tuesday about Senate Bill 539, introduced by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, to expunge names of high-ranking Confederate political and military figures from buildings, parks, schools and other public facilities.

Inspired by the killing of nine African American churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., last month, SB 539 is aimed largely at two Southern California schools named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, but its language would require any “state or local property” whose name was “associated” with the Confederate States of America to be renamed.

Fort Bragg was originally a 19th-century Army outpost named for Braxton Bragg, an officer who defected to the Confederacy when the Civil War erupted in 1861, and the name stuck when the military departed and Fort Bragg became a city. Bragg became a high-ranking Confederate general and adviser to Confederate States President Jefferson Davis.

“I talked to Mike McGuire and cities will not be covered,” Turner said. “He assured me that would happen.”

Steve Harmon, Glazer’s spokesman, had said earlier he didn’t believe SB 539 would apply to cities. But in an email late Tuesday, after The Bee’s item appeared, he added: “We hope this will prompt a serious conversation in Fort Bragg about the suitability of that city’s affiliation with a very sad chapter in our nation’s history. They should have a serious re-evaluation of their city’s name.”

Turner said he didn’t believe Fort Bragg had such an “affiliation” because the name was adopted before the Civil War and Braxton Bragg’s defection to the Confederate cause.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee