Jacksonville Florida architecture and palm trees with street

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Jacksonville wants to ban neo-Nazis from laser projecting antisemitic messages on buildings

It could soon be a crime.

 

Claire Goforth

Tech

Posted on Jan 17, 2023

In recent months, neo-Nazis in Florida have taken to displaying antisemitic messages on buildings using laser light projectors. Footage of the messages is then used in online recruitment efforts. This past weekend, neo-Nazis again projected antisemitic hate onto buildings in two Florida cities.

Local politicians in Jacksonville, Florida, where much of this activity has taken place, have had enough. They’re drafting legislation to stop people from using their city skyline to spread hate with laser lights.

Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond told the Daily Dot in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon that they’re working on a bill that would require a permit and permission from the property owner to project a message onto a building. He said the legislation would also apply to public property. Diamond said that violations would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

He described the legislation as “content neutral,” which would avoid running afoul of First Amendment protections.

As the Daily Dot previously reported, in late October, hateful messages were projected in multiple locations in Jacksonville and St. Augustine to its south. The antisemitic messages in Jacksonville made national news in large part because one was displayed on the stadium the night the city hosted the annual Florida-Georgia football game between the Universities of Florida and Georgia, respectively.

Jacksonville residents have been disgusted and humiliated to see their city splashed across headlines for these laser-light displays of antisemitism in recent months.

National Socialists Florida and Goyim Defense League took to Telegram to boast about the hateful messages, which also included hanging an antisemitic banner on an overpass in Jacksonville.

National Socialists Florida, also known as NatSoc Florida, is a neo-Nazi group based in Jacksonville. It promotes fascism, antisemitism, and white supremacy. Its social media channels are filled with hate for anyone who isn’t white, Christian, and heterosexual.

On Gab, National Socialists Florida referred to the swastika projected onto a building in downtown Jacksonville this weekend as a “successful laser op.” As in October, the message was timed to coincide with a nationally televised football game—the Jacksonville Jaguars’ playoff game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

National Socialists Florida has been working with the white supremacist Goyim Defense League. Goyim Defense League founder Jon Minadeo II, who calls himself “Handsome Truth,” relocated from California to Florida last year.

The Florida Times-Union reports that Minadeo was with the leader of National Socialists Florida when the group hung an antisemitic banner in October. Minadeo told the paper that he planned to move to Jacksonville.

This past weekend, Minadeo posted a live stream of his group projecting antisemitic messages and a swastika onto a building in West Palm Beach, Florida. A police spokesman told local outlet WPTV that they believe the messages projected onto the building are related to antisemitic fliers that were thrown into yards in nearby Boca Raton, which police are investigating.

The fliers contain similar language and imagery as fliers that Goyim Defense League sells online.

Both National Socialists Florida and Goyim Defense League claim that they don’t do anything illegal.

Diamond, the city councilman in Jacksonville, told Action News Jax that he’s confident the bill requiring permits and permission to project messages onto buildings will pass.

“I strongly suspect that there will be a large, if not unanimous, majority of the Jacksonville City Council to outlaw these kinds of messages on the sides of buildings in Jacksonville,” Diamond said.

He told the Daily Dot that the bill could be proposed as soon as Wednesday. While he’s concerned with the impact that hateful messages have on those targeted, Diamond isn’t concerned about Jacksonville becoming overrun with hate groups.

“I don’t think their message is resonating,” Diamond said on Tuesday. “It’s 2023; 99.99% of people in Jacksonville think these people are crazy.”

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*First Published: Jan 17, 2023, 3:28 pm CST