Duval County

Gov. DeSantis’ office releases statement denouncing antisemitic messages around Jacksonville

Update: Just in to Action News Jax, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office released a statement concerning antisemitic messages:

Governor DeSantis rejects attempts to scapegoat the Jewish community – it has no place in Florida. Through legislative proposals, laws, and decisive executive action, Governor DeSantis has a proven record of supporting the Jewish community and fighting anti-Semitism and the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Florida, including:

  • Signing the most comprehensive anti-Semitism legislation in Florida’s history, requiring public K-20 educational institutions to treat discrimination by students or employees or resulting from institutional policies motivated by anti-Semitism in an identical manner to discrimination motivated by race.
  • Under Gov. DeSantis’ leadership, Florida created a statewide, required Holocaust curriculum that teaches students about that horrific tragedy at every grade level in an age-appropriate manner.
    • In fact, a Florida law that he signed requires that schools teach about the Holocaust factually.
  • Allocating state funding for Florida’s Jewish community and Israel, including:
    • $4 million in security funding for Florida’s Jewish Day Schools, including, for the first time, funding for professional security.
    • $1.35 million for the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Pete.
    • $400,000 for the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach.
    • $100,000 for the Holocaust Task Force. $250,000 for the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator.
    • $1 million in recurring funds for collaborative research, development, and commercialization of aerospace and other technology projects through a memorandum of understanding that Space Florida has entered with Israel.
  • Enacting legislation to ensure Hatzalah ambulances are allowed to operate in Florida.
  • Signing legislation supported by leading rabbis to set aside time in public schools for a daily moment of silence.
  • Holding accountable companies that discriminate against the State of Israel or the Israeli people.
—  Jeremy T. Redfern, Deputy Press Secretary, Executive Office of the Governor

FBI Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office are responding to messages of antisemitism that were displayed on TIAA Bank Field at the end of the Georgia-Florida game.


The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said in part it is working with “partner agencies” in looking into the message. Here is JSO’s full statement:

“The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has been made aware of antisemitic posts and displays in and around the City of Jacksonville. We have been looking into these actions and will continue to work with our partner agencies regarding these reports of antisemitic messages. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office has not identified any crimes having been committed; the comments displayed do not include any type of threat and are protected by the First Amendment. We will continue to monitor any reports of this nature to determine if they rise to level of a criminal nature. We encourage our community to continue to report any future incidents at 904-630-0500 or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org.”

—  Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

RELATED: Jewish community reacts to antisemitic message shown across a portion of TIAA Bank Field

FBI Jacksonville Special Agent in Charge Sherri E. Onks released the following statement, saying her agency will remain in contact with JSO:

“To our Jewish Community Partners,

“The FBI never loses sight of the threat extremists pose to the Jewish community and to other religious, racial, and ethnic groups. As I committed to you early in my tenure, our team remains as committed as ever to working with the Jewish Federation and Foundation, Anti-Defamation League, and local Jewish community leaders and law enforcement partners to keep our community safe.

“No matter how abhorrent or repulsive, expressing one’s views is protected by the First Amendment and not a crime by itself, but true threats are not protected speech. When a threat or actual violence targets someone based on their race, religion, national origin, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability, it meets the criteria of a federal hate crime. Investigating these acts remains a top priority for the FBI because hate crimes are not only an attack on the victim – these acts are meant to threaten and intimidate an entire community. FBI Jacksonville will remain vigilant and in contact with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and, if in the course of their investigation information comes to light of a potential federal violation, the FBI stands ready to investigate.

“There is no place for hate and racism in our communities, and no one should ever fear they could be targeted in an act of violence based on how they look, where they’re from, or any part of their identity. The FBI and our partners will not stand by and tolerate hate crimes that victimize our citizens. The FBI and our law enforcement partners encourage everyone to maintain vigilance and report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement via 911, and to the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or submitting a tip at tips.fbi.gov. FBI Jacksonville is grateful to have you as an ally in our efforts to combat hate crimes and protect the citizens of North Florida and across the country.”

—  Sherri E. Onks, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Jacksonville

The State Attorney’s Office Fourth Judicial Circuit, which covers Duval, Clay and Nassau counties, also said it would be monitoring the messages should any activity turn criminal:

“After a weekend in which there were several instances of antisemitic messages displayed on roadways and public buildings in Jacksonville, the State Attorney’s Office received inquiries about the legality of such activities and whether any actions were criminal.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held such speech — even despicable speech — is protected by the First Amendment. If this office is presented with evidence indicating an intent to directly incite imminent criminal activity or specifically threaten violence against a person or group, then criminal prosecution may be implicated.

“In denouncing these actions, State Attorney Melissa Nelson said:

“‘The type of hateful, antisemitic rhetoric we witnessed over the weekend is repulsive and has no place in any community. We will continue to monitor these types of activities to ensure the safety of everyone in our city and hold accountable any who cause harm to anyone based on hate or animus.’

“‘As a reminder to the public, the State Attorney’s Office’s Human Rights Division oversees cases involving hate crimes — should anyone have a tip about hate crimes, they are encouraged to call the division’s hotline at (904) 255-3099.’”

—  State Attorney's Office, 4th Circuit

Action News Jax’s Robert Grant took a look into who’s behind the message and if this could be part of a rise in hate groups right here in Jacksonville.

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