‘I am not involved in bridge lighting,’ DeSantis says when asked about pride lights

Florida governor spoke Friday during roundtable in Sarasota, where he was asked about lights on Ringling Causeway

Gov. Ron DeSantis in Sarasota on 6-11-21.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation disclosed this week that it received five phone complaints about a rainbow light display on the Acosta Bridge, and directed the lights be returned to the traditional blue color.

On Tuesday night, there was confusion by some who noticed the lights change back after the Jacksonville Transportation Authority announced the rainbow lights would be on throughout the week in honor of Pride Month. Following backlash and questions about the directive, it reversed course in 24 hours and the rainbow lights returned Wednesday night.

Florida governor spoke Friday during roundtable in Sarasota, where he was asked about lights on Ringling Causeway

The governor’s office has denied any involvement with the decision to stop the rainbow lights, saying “the governor was most definitely not involved in that decision and it’s absurd to think otherwise.”

On Friday in Sarasota, Gov. Ron DeSantis was asked by a reporter about FDOT’s rejection of a request from Sarasota to light the Ringling Causeway Bridge with rainbow lights.

Reporter: “There was a request by Sarasota officials to light up the Ringling Bridge here for Pride Month. Is your office reconsidering that, I know a similar denial was reconsidered -- ”

“You’ll have to talk to FDOT. I am not involved in bridge lighting. I think they are just doing it based on code. I don’t think they’re getting involved in any messaging on that,” DeSantis said.

News4Jax checked in with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s office again on Friday. Curry has not made any comment on the matter this week. There have been a few calls coming into his office on the issue. His staff members say they are referring them to JTA and FDOT as those are the agencies responsible for lighting the bridge.

Since Monday, News4Jax has learned, JTA has received 11 calls concerning the Acosta Bridge pride lighting. Of those calls, eight have been in support of the colors while three have been opposed, according to public records. News4Jax has made a similar request to FDOT.

The Acosta Bridge isn’t the only government structure displaying pride colors. At City Hall, there is a pride flag flying in a window on the top floor. It’s City Council President Tommy Hazouri’s office.

“If we are going to be one city, one Jacksonville, then don’t stifle our efforts to be a welcoming city‚” Hazouri said.

On Saturday at 10:00 a.m., a rally of pride support is planned along the Acosta Bridge. Various groups are participating. A spokesperson from Equity Florida says it’s not only to mark the decision to turn the pride lights back on, but it commemorates five years since the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. There will also be a demonstration against the recent legislation regarding transgender athletes.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.