As Confederate monuments in the South have come tumbling down, one Florida state representative is calling for the protection of these statues in his state.  

Republican state Representative Mike Hill believes the monuments should be preserved because of their educational value.

He is introducing new legislation that would make removing statues from public spaces in the state a crime, according to the Miami New Times. A person found damaging a remembrance monument would face a third-degree felony -- the bill applies to any type of statue -- Confederate or not. 

“It won’t change any person’s life today by tearing down a Confederate monument or tearing down a statue or tearing down a cross,” Hill told the New Times. “It won’t 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 proposed piece of legislation will also amend the state's definition of veteran to include Confederate soldiers. The Times reports Hill does not attribute slavery as the primary cause of the Civil War.

Instead, he claimed the war costing 600,000 Americans their lives was waged over states' rights, money and preservation of Southern life. Confederate leaders like Vice President Alexander Stephens explicitly stated their cause was about upholding slavery in the South.

Hill is the first Black state representative elected from the panhandle since the Civil War. The 61-year-old is also an adamant defender of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, notes the Pensacola News Journal. He does admit the war was fought to rid the nation of slavery but refuses to acknowledge it was the primary cause. 

“Slavery was a part of it,” he said. “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’s something that we shouldn’t erase or try to run away from,” he continued. “That’s something that we should understand, know and be proud of, that we were a nation that did that.”

Throughout his career, he has been at the center of major political controversies. While running against Republican challenger Rebekah Bydlak for the state House seat, Hill led a sexist campaign. He attacked her supporter, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, for his Palestinian heritage and lashed out at all Muslim in rants online.  

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