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Approved: Black “Festivus” pole will be placed in Capitol

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The state has OK’d a politically charged “Festivus” pole for display in the Capitol this holiday season.

The Department of Management Services, which oversees state property, cleared the pole to have a place in the plaza-level rotunda, spokeswoman Maggie Mickler said Thursday.

The all black, six-foot-tall pole “will contain the names of all unarmed black men killed by police in 2016,” according to the application from South Florida activist and former blogger Chaz Stevens.

Stevens now runs the Religious Liberty Project, which plans to put a “Shot by Cops” pole in all 50 state capitals.

“Additionally, a distressed black and white American flag will be flown at half-mast, lowered in protest to this senseless slaughter,” he said on the group’s website.

“Kneeling at the base is the number 7, painted in the colors of the San Fransisco 49ers, signaling our support for those who peacefully and silently protest,” referring to quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

He has gained attention—and opprobrium—for not standing during the National Anthem as a protest over the treatment of African Americans by police.

Mickler said DMS also approved a winter solstice poster from the First Coast Freethought Society in Jacksonville.

The only other application received is from All Saints Catholic Ministry of Lehigh Acres, Mickler said. Though the application mentions a display of “possibly (a) nativity scene,” she said the group now just wants to put up a “seasonal banner.”

Stevens previously has been approved to install a pole made of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans, meant to mark Festivus, the fictional holiday from a 1997 episode of “Seinfeld.”

Last year, the pole was gay-pride themed, in rainbow colors with a disco ball on top.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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