JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Antisemitic messages were spread across Jacksonville over the weekend — and even projected on the back side of a videoboard at TIAA Bank Field in the midst of Georgia-Florida game day celebrations.
Councilman Matt Carlucci says it’s putting Jacksonville in the national limelight for the wrong reason.
“This was an egregious act by a fringe element somewhere and it doesn’t reflect who Jacksonville is” Carlucci said. “It doesn’t reflect our heart, our soul and who we are as a people.”
On Monday, the FBI, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office all said that the messages that were displayed did not appear to be in violation of the law.
Jacksonville resident Carissa Marquez said she saw several men holding the signs at a busy overpass.
“Disgusted,” she said of the signs. “Scared for, like, people that are part of the Jewish community.”
The messages have sparked outrage in the community and beyond.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ team released a statement saying: “Governor DeSantis rejects attempts to scapegoat the Jewish community – it has no place in Florida.”
It’s unclear who is behind the acts.
“Don’t come to Jacksonville and put a mark on us,” Carlucci said. “Don’t insult the integrity of the people of Jacksonville.”
‘Shocked and saddened’
Rabbi Jonah Zinn is the executive director for the University of Florida Hillel, a religious organization that serves many Jewish students on the university’s campus. He spoke about the digital message that was projected on the side of TIAA Bank Field.
“When you think about football and friendly competition, it’s a fun and sort of enjoyable part of the college experience,” he said. “So to see what is normally a community building experience sort of shattered by that — that was disheartening.”
“I was shocked,” the rabbi added. “And I’m just really, really saddened.”
Zinn said community members can take action.
“We need the support of allies, people of all backgrounds, people of good faith to work together to help create an environment where all people including the Jewish community feels welcome and included,” he said.
The nonprofit organization OneJax is planning to host a candlelight vigil Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at James Weldon Johnson Park. The public is invited to attend.
JSO said it encourages anyone in the community to continue to report any future incidents at 904-630-0500 or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org.