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Red, white, and blue display on Acosta Bridge means no colors for ‘Pride Month’ or other events

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Change is coming to state bridges, including Jacksonville’s Acosta Bridge. In about two weeks, you will see a red, white, and blue display for the entire summer.

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This also means no more colors for “Pride Month” in June, or any other holidays and events during that time.

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Some people say they believe this an attack on the LGBTQ+ community, but others say, this is all about freedom and America.

In a tweet, Florida Department of Transportation secretary Jared Perdue said they will support Florida’s “Freedom Summer” by illuminating the state’s bridges red, white, and blue from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Action News Jax reached out to FDOT, and via email, the agency confirmed this will include Jacksonville’s Acosta Bridge. The spokesperson said, “FDOT supports the Governor’s vision to encourage Floridians to enjoy the activities and attractions that Florida has to offer while celebrating the liberties and freedoms that so many fought for us to have. In that spirit, we are happy to honor our country with this lighting display.”

“I’ve got nothing wrong with red, white and blue,” City Councilmember Jimmy Peluso said. “I mean, God knows I’m a military member myself – I love the American flag. Certainly, it’s fine to have those colors. But I mean, you’re missing out on some major holidays throughout summer.”

Peluso says he isn’t happy about the change. Over the phone he told Action News Jax Annette Gutierrez, this will take away recognition for other holidays like Juneteenth and Pride Month.

“For us to not even acknowledge it is almost like a spit in the face to me, of the things that make this country so unique, which is our diversity and our – and the fact that we’re so different,” City Councilmember Jimmy Peluso said. “We’re all different, and we’re all one. That’s part of our mantra as a country.”

So Peluso, is supporting leaders of the LGBTQ+ community who want protest this requirement.

The LGBTQ+ community and allies also protested three years ago when FDOT denied JTA from having its rainbow light display during pride month, citing a permit violation. FDOT eventually reversed course under public pressure.

INVESTIGATES: FDOT, JTA could be on collision course over Acosta Bridge lights ahead of Pride Month

Equality Florida representative Carlos Guillermo Smith says he feels like this is an attack on the LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s just another petty, hateful act from an out-of-touch governor and administration that are frankly obsessed with culture wars,” Guillermo Smith said. “They’re sending a message of exclusion. They’re sending a message that LGBTQ people perhaps should not be proud to be who they are in the month of June.”

On the other hand, City Councilmember, Rory Diamond, said he supports the “Freedom Summer” plan.

“How on earth can you get mad about our bridges being red, white and blue?” Diamond said. “There is nothing more inclusive, and American and patriotism. This is awesome – we should all - everyone in Florida should be excited about this.”

When Gutierrez asked him his thoughts on how this will impact other events like pride month, he maintained his stance.

Gutierrez asked saying, “I spoke with some people who are upset with the fact that that means that we won’t have the pride colors during pride month. So, what are your thoughts on that?”

READ: Exclusive: FDOT denies Deegan Acosta Bridge lighting request

Diamond responded saying, “Nobody owns America. Look, America is about red, white and blue. I think this is awesome. Everyone should be excited. Look, when you have red, white and blue, that means every single person is included.”

Guillermo Smith says this is just fueling the fire for the LGBTQ+ community to persevere.

“LGBTQ people are not going anywhere,” Guillermo Smith said. “Our light will shine even brighter in the darkness that they have created. And LGBT Floridians will fly their flags even higher in the wake of this.”

Gutierrez reached out to event organizers of the potential protest they plan to have. And they said it may be during the Fourth Annual Acosta Bridge Pride March in June. But nothing has been set just yet.

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