Orange County

Bills propose more education on Ocoee massacre, compensation for decedents

OCOEE, Fla. — State lawmakers are considering legislation that calls for more education about the race riot and Ocoee massacre of 1920 as well as compensation for the descendants of the victims.

The bill would offer up to $150,000 per victim, but, the overall compensation package would have to be negotiated by the legislature.

Gladys Bell said her family owned acres of land in Ocoee that was stripped away by law enforcement and the courts and never recovered.

READ: Officer recovering after suspect rams patrol vehicle with stolen car, Ocoee police say

She said her father was 18 years old at the time violence erupted in Ocoee. She said he fled with other family members when a white mob descended upon the town.

But, she said, her great uncle Julius "July" Perry, a wealthy citrus grower who was involved in helping black people get their right to vote, was captured, shot and then hanged.

A memorial marker for him now sits outside the Orange County Regional History Center in downtown Orlando.

READ: 9 facts about the city of Ocoee

State Sen. Randolph Bracy, who lives in Ocoee, brought together the bills.

The legislation passed its first hearing in the Senate, and a second hearing could come in the next couple of weeks.

During public comment, one person said they were OK with the education, but didn't think taxpayers should be on the hook for it.

But Bracy said he’s had a lot of support and is hoping it will pass and get to the governor’s desk by the end of the session.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.