SAFE: A War of 1812 monument on the Capitol grounds.

On a second try, the Senate today approved SB 515 to prohibit removal or relocating of a historic monument from public property.

Violation of the law can be a felony. It strips local control of statuary from city, county and school governments. A waiver can be sought from the History Commission.


The bill lists a variety of wars and military operations covered by the bill. The sponsor, Sen. Mark Johnson (R-Little Rock) said he was encouraged to file the bill by the Daughters of the War of 1812. Similar legislation has popped up around the country as a result of recent removal of Confederate statuary, much of it in Arkansas linked to the racist movement of the early 20th century to venerate the Confederate cause.

The bill covers not just statues but plaques and other items, including historic flag displays. It happens that a Confederate flag display in Hot Springs has been the source of some controversy over the years.


Sen. Linda Chesterfield spoke against the bill. She said she didn’t want to criminalize someone who might move a flag. But she also said she opposed the removal of local control, given that views on things sometimes change. Indeed.

The bill got 16 votes on its first run Tuesday. I don’t have the final tally today, but I think it was around 19, with 18 needed for passage. The vote will appear here shortly. It goes to the House.