State Senator Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee), has filed legislation that would grant just compensation to those descended from victims of “The Ocoee Massacre”, which took place in Ocoee, FL on Election Day in 1920. The bill, SB 8, will be informed by the findings of a formal study conducted through the Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA). The research, which has been authorized at the request of Senator Bracy, will guide the administration of relief funds appropriated by SB 8.
The notorious Election Day incident began when a prominent black citizen, Julius “July” Perry, was lynched for attempting to exercise his right to vote. Ocoee’s African American population was forced to abandon their homes and property, or risk a fate similar to July Perry’s at the hands of a deputized mob and local government officials. As this mob traversed the town, they terrorized African American residents—firing guns, torching churches, setting homes ablaze, and seizing property—throughout Ocoee’s black neighborhoods.
According to census records, nearly 500 black residents fled as a result of the incident, and an estimated fifty black residents were murdered during the Election Day riot. Shortly after this reign of terror, a committee of white residents, with the cooperation of the local court, distributed the wrongfully-seized property to other white residents. From that time until the 1980’s, Ocoee had virtually no African American inhabitants. Ocoee, FL falls within the boundaries of present-day Florida Senate District 11, the district represented by Senator Bracy. He offered the following remarks on addressing this historic injustice:
“I am humbled to play a small role in seeking redress for the families who lost their lives, civil rights, homes, and property in this horrific tragedy. Given that November 2, 2020 will mark the centennial of this incident, I think it’s an appropriate time for our legislature to offer healing and closure to the individuals marred by this painful legacy.”