FDLE increases presence as it eyes ‘Day of Hate’ online posts

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement plans to step up its presence this weekend in response to social media posts about a “National Day of Hate” against Jewish groups.

“While there are currently no known threats or protests planned in Florida over the weekend, there have been recent acts of violence toward the Jewish community, and we ask our citizens to be vigilant and report suspicious activity,” the Florida Fusion Center, which is based at FDLE, said in a bulletin.

The center includes state, local, tribal and federal agencies and addresses issues such as threats and terrorist activity.

FDLE said it has been monitoring social media closely.

The bulletin said the center and FDLE are coordinating increased law-enforcement efforts “to ensure any individual or group who criminally harasses or threatens violence against Florida’s faith-based community will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

FDLE said so far it does not know of any threats or protests planned but is encouraging people to report anything they may see or hear that is suspicious.

There has also been some action taken to combat antisemitism locally.

There have been recent incidents in Jacksonville within the last few months, including antisemitic messages projected on the side of TIAA Bank Field during the Georgia-Florida game in October and other buildings in downtown Jacksonville that same weekend, as well as banners from highway overpasses and flyers placed on people’s properties in certain neighborhoods.

There was also a situation last month when a picture made the rounds on social media of a swastika and outline of an antisemitic cartoon that appeared to be projected on the side of the CSX building downtown.

The company quickly condemned the projection and even donated $100,000 to organizations combatting antisemitism.

Within the last month, Jacksonville City Council approved a bill that makes projecting any message on the side of a building without the owner’s consent illegal.

Penalties could include 60 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. Police would have the right to seize the device that was used for the projection.

There is a proposed bill expected to be discussed during the upcoming state legislative session that addresses these situations.

If it’s passed it would:

  • Enhance the penalties for any hate crimes
  • Make it illegal to project antisemitic messages on buildings or property without permission
  • Outlaw any distribution of antisemitic flyers

If passed, it is likely to be challenged by some who say it is breaching free speech First Amendment rights.

This weekend, the Anti-Defamation League is concerned and preparing to see a lot of graffiti, those antisemitic flyers handed out and possible spontaneous protests. In the midst of all of this, the Anti-Defamation League is asking for people to spread messages of peace and unity.

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