‘Not in this city:’ Bipartisan group of Jacksonville leaders unveil new hate crime legislation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A bipartisan coalition of city council members and faith leaders announced a new local legislative push to crack down on hate crimes in the Bold City.

The announcement comes in response to the racist Dollar General mass shooting last summer.


The announcement was held on the first day of Passover, one of the Jewish religion’s major holidays.

A bipartisan coalition of city council members and faith leaders called for an end to hate in Jacksonville, standing in front of a memorial to the three victims of last year’s racist shooting at the Grand Park Dollar General.

Twenty-four hate crimes were documented in Jacksonville between 2020 and 2022.

Councilmember Jimmy Peluso (D-District 7) is one of six local leaders sponsoring the new bill.

He said the Dollar General shooting and several local incidents of antiemetic projections and fliers that have plagued the city in recent years sparked the need for the bill.

“It’s time that our city tries to get in front of that and say and say, not in this city you don’t,” stated Peluso.

The bill would enhance penalties for ordinance violations like prohibiting messages displayed on buildings without the owner’s consent, littering, and noise violations.

If those violations are committed with the primary purpose of expressing or promoting animosity, hostility, or malice against a protected group, fines and jail time could be tripled.

“If you’re just saying I don’t like a certain group, hey then that’s your First Amendment speech, but if you are inciting violence and we see that, then that’s something we can take action on now,” said Peluso.

Councilmember Rory Diamond (R-District 13) argued the legislation would accomplish little, as state hate crime laws are already in place.

“It’ll probably pass, but it’s not going to do anything. It’s not going to stop hate, not going to stop crime. What we need to be doing is protecting the one category of our neighbors who are actually having hate crimes increase, and that’s our Jewish brothers and sisters,” said Diamond.

But Peluso argued the enhanced penalties in the proposed local ordinance are warranted, and the local ordinance offers protection based on gender identity, which isn’t covered under state law.

“We are now finally putting more teeth into, you know, people who are breaking the law and doing it in such a hateful manner,” said Peluso.

The legislation still has a long road ahead. It’s expected to get its first hearing in roughly a month.

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