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Florida Sheriff Responds To Antisemitic Incidents

A Florida sheriff condemned the rising acts of antisemitism in both his county and in the state during a press conference Monday saying, any antisemites have come “to the wrong county.”

The Sunshine State has experienced a rash of antisemitic incidents over the past several months, many of which have been from the Goyim Defense League (GDL), a large online community that pushes antisemitic rhetoric, harasses Jews and publishes anti-Jewish literature. Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood called members of the GDL “scumbags” who try to smear the character of the Jewish people with lies in the opening of the press conference.

“These scumbags came to the wrong county,” Chitwood said. “We have community in this county [and] we stand beside one another in this county and we stand with our Jewish neighbors.”

Chitwood played a video of a compilation of antisemitic incidents across the state, many of which were headed by the GDL, according to the press conference. One video showed Jon Minadeo II, who leads the GDL, using a bullhorn to yell at Jews in an intersection. NGO StopAntisemitism shared a video of the incident with their followers.

At one point Minadeo asks a Jew if he thinks he “should be put in an oven,” referring to the Holocaust, and tells another Jew that he looks “like a Jewish horse,” according to the video. Later, Minadeo can be seen performing the Heil Hitler salute in front of Jews while other GDL members hold signs in the background accusing Jews of being pedophiles.

The county has also suffered several recent incidents after the group held up banners with antisemitic messages across a highway, according to the video. Additionally, in Orlando the message “Vax the Jews” was projected onto a building on New Year’s Eve and a similar incident took place in October 2022 when the group projected “Kanye Was Right About The Jews” on TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.

Chitwood, who stated that he also has a target on his back from the group, said the lies promulgated by the GDL are like a “badge of honor,” according to the press conference.

“Well I wear that as a badge of honor, I do,” Chitwood said. “These clowns who want to shut my big mouth and put a bullet in the back of my head. Go for it, that’s my message to you. You want to put surveillance on me for 24 hours? Go for it. You’re gonna dox me and make me unelectable? Go for it.”

Many states were on high alert over the weekend after neo-Nazi groups announced that Feb. 25 would be the National Day of Hate, specifically targeting Jews, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.