(As originally published with more photos, Thu, March 2nd 2023, 9:35 PM EST)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (TND) — A Florida sheriff has made it clear there’s no place for hate in his county.
“We stand beside our Jewish neighbors,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said Monday as he started a news conference that lasted an hour. “We are not going to tolerate this.”
Chitwood was referring to a series of incidents involving “the white supremacist neo-Nazi hate group Goyim Defense League.”
He said members of that organization had dropped explicit hate propaganda around neighborhoods and parking lots; draped banners across a major road, International Speedway Boulevard; and projected messages onto Daytona International Speedway.
The sheriff also said they used megaphones to shout hate speech and “terrorize” people outside the Chabad of South Orlando, which is not in his county.
Several state representatives were also there, pushing for the passage of HB 269, titled “An act relating to public nuisances.”
If passed during the legislative session that starts Tuesday, it would ban littering with hate propaganda, projecting it onto a building or stadium, and other activities such as stalking.
Places of worship and cemeteries would also be protected.
Anyone found breaking the law would be guilty of a hate crime and a third-degree felony. The bill also includes civil penalties.
Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard County, is Jewish and a sponsor of the bill. He explained the bill is guaranteed to pass.
”There is no First Amendment right to litter,” Rep. Fine said. “There is no First Amendment right to graffiti, there is no First Amendment right to assault, there is no First Amendment right to block someone’s access to the place where they pray. In Florida, if you do that, you’re going to go to jail, and you’re going to go to jail for a very long time.”
Chitwood noted no representative of the Goyim Defense League was there, despite some making death threats online including to “put a bullet in” his head, hack his computer, and “dox” him.
”I wear that as a badge of honor,” the sheriff said. “Go for it. That’s my message to you. Go for it.”
”You came to the wrong county,” he added. “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. That’s my personal message.”