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Florida Legislator Introduces Bill to Enhance Penalties for Antisemitic Hate Crimes

Florida’s Republican Representative Mike Caruso of District 87 filed new legislation that would enhance penalties for hate crimes.

The lawmaker introduced this bill in response to the several recent cases of antisemitism not only in Palm Beach County but statewide.

“They deserve and have the right towards quiet enjoyment in their communities and the ability to practice their Jewish faith without reprisal, without fear of harm,” Caruso told WPBF 25 News.

Earlier this month, suspects used a projector to display swastika symbols on an AT&T building in West Palm Beach. In the past few weeks, there have also been antisemitic flyers distributed in various neighborhoods in Palm Beach County.

“First, it establishes that the projection of anything onto any public or private property without the written permission from the owner of the property or a permit from a city…it’s a public building…without that, it’s a first-degree misdemeanor,” Caruso said. “Now if they project something of a hateful nature, such as a swastika, something that is offensive from an ethnic or religious perspective, then it’s elevated to a hate crime and therefore a third-degree felony.”

The bill also lays out similar punishments for those who distribute antisemitic flyers, amongst other items.

“Elevate it to a third-degree felony… hate crime, and subject to the picking up publicly of trash throughout the community as the judge would deem appropriate,” he said.

The legislation has to make its way through three committees in the House before making its way to the floor. The bill would have to follow similar steps in the Senate before legislation eventually heads to the governor’s desk.

“Hate has no blue or red to it. It’s not Republican; it’s not Democrat. It’s just wrong. And we need to put a stop to it as soon as we can before it escalates any further. And clearly, it’s getting out of hand,” Caruso said.

The goal is for the bill to be in effect this October.

“We said, and we’ve always said, ‘never again.’ And we mean ‘never again,'” Caruso said.

Source: https://www.wpbf.com/article/florida-palm-beach-county-hate-crimes-antisemitism-bill/42662068