DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood delivered a strong message to the people responsible for recent antisemitic acts across the county.
"These scumbags came to the wrong county," Volusia County Sheriff, Mike Chitwood, said. "You came to the wrong county. I stand with my Jewish friends, and I’m honored to be on your hit list. It’s an honor to be sought after by a bunch of punk thugs like you."
Law enforcement, along with political and faith leaders, joined to address recent antisemitic acts in the county. Just last week, hate groups projected an antisemitic message on the grandstand of the Daytona International Speedway. They also passed out flyers in Volusia County neighborhoods.
The sheriff’s office shared a video of the group they said is responsible, GDL. Video shows people yelling with megaphones into people’s cars in Central Florida. Sheriff Chitwood said the group rents U-Hauls and wears GoPro cameras. He said the group even sends death threats to people in the Jewish community.
"You want to put surveillance on me 24 hours? Go for it. The best of all you’re going to dox me and make me unelectable. Go for it. You came to the wrong county," Sheriff Chitwood said.
Florida State Representative Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, said state lawmakers are working to do something about antisemitism in Florida. A proposed bill aims to make the acts punishable by law.
"That will make clear that while you have the right to be an idiot, and you have a right to be a nazi and you have the right to walk down the street and say whatever you want, that when your speech turns into conduct, that’s where we draw the line," Rep. Fine said. "If you graffiti a building, it is a crime now, but if your motivation is hate, it will be a third-degree felony. You’ll spend five years in prison. If you want to litter, it is a crime right now, but if your motivation is a hate crime, it will be a third-degree felony. You will spend five years in jail."
Representative Fine said the bill is expected to be heard in a legislative session starting next week. He anticipates it moving very quickly and expects it to pass.