Councilman Don Redman: A Guest We Forgot Not to Invite

September 26, 2013 6 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

My first encounter with City Councilman Don Redman was on the sidewalk, November of 2011 in front of City Hall as a member of Occupy Jacksonville. He was a rather forgettable individual, short, round, and from what I remember, a somewhat agreeable individual who seemed to be interested in understanding why people would stand in protest in front of a local government building in protest of its institutions being rapidly bought and sold in the name of oligarchy...

He didn't say much just choosing to stand there with a pasty smile, typical of the average southern politician, but one could tell that ultimately behind those beady eyes was a mind closed for business. An individual bred of a proud narrowmindedness, common amongst the Florida Cracker, his eyes pretty much said that if one isn't going to reaffirm his suspicions and prejudices, there really isn't much point in wasting one's breath. He would later qualify my analysis by insinuating that everyone in the camp was nothing more than a bunch of irresponsible derelicts, in so many words, despite the fact I had just advised him of half the occupations of most of the folks I knew plus the fact that at the time I ran my own company.

None of that really mattered to Don Redman because he represents a culture that needs dishonesty in order to make illusionary worldviews work. The fact that Redman knew that occupiers in front of City Hall weren't dangerous people and certainly didn't act in any manner in breaking any laws didn't matter to him. He felt perfectly justified in stalking the camp, turning power off in Hemming Plaza, and coming up with a multitude of petty reasons to try to run off people who didn't fit into what he felt the ideal Jaxson is: conservative, fundamentalist christian, and white.

But let's go back a little farther in time when Ahmed Parvez was being nominated to heard the Human Rights Commission. Sitting in on the whole spectacle of Redman reciting the "lord's prayer" to a scholar, and without argument, a gentleman as if he were marking some sort of "line in the sand" saying, in so many words, "This is our territory - you will abide", was the stuff that should have caused public outcry in any reasonable city. Yet the majority of citizens simply brushed it away with little more than a disaffected chuckle that seemed to say, incredulously, "Well one has to overlook those things." This wasn't just some racist yahoo someone forgot to not invite to the family cookout - ignorantly speaking out and offending company - but a representative of a diverse, and supposedly modern, city. But then again we do tolerate the presence of a high school named after a Grand Dragon of the KKK.

So it is no surprise that one of Pope Mac's brood from First Baptist Church - born out the idea of "separate but equal" -  is pushing forward a proposal to defund the Human Rights Commission; created to insure that there is no discrimination in seeking employment and housing due to race, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital or familial status, religious, and ethnic groups. Why fund something that might actually help people?

Don Redman and other 'pew dwellers of Jacksonville's Vatican' in our City Council, were very vocal in demonstrating the kind of intolerance that exists in the city's institutions, and in the hearts of those who put them there, last year when our LGBT community, and supporters, pushed for a new Human Rights Ordinance. Breaking out the pom-poms they cheered speaking of how they won out in the name of "decency" against those who condone immoral behavior and their "our of town influences" that sought to force decent, Christian folk - such as themselves - from having to tolerate a few folks a little different from them. There again was little more notable outrage from the city other than a nervous attempt to laugh off "the guest we forgot not to invite to the cookout."

Well if he gets his way the Human Rights Commission, an organization that has assisted in remedying 35,000 complaints of discrimination in the city, will be largely meaningless. What that means is that even those who may not have wanted to include protections for the LGBT community, but fell under one of the other categories, can now enjoy the equality of little to no protection along side those they felt shouldn't be included. Thank you City of Jacksonville, and thank you, Councilman Don Redman.

Robert Montgomerie