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Sheriff Chitwood, legislators, and faith leaders address antisemitic messages.

Mon, Feb 27, 2023 at 4:10PM

Written by Kristen Schmutz

Belden Communications News



Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, local officials, legislators, and faith-based community leaders convened Monday, February 27, 2023, ‘in a show of unity’ to address the recent uptick in antisemitic messages spreading across Volusia County and Central Florida.

According to Sheriff Chitwood, the Goyim Defense League (GDL), a group with members across the Southern states, has a neo-Nazi ideology, spreading hateful messages from Orlando to Volusia County.

"There are a lot of people in this room, and there are a lot of people across the country of the Jewish faith that are on their hit list," said Sheriff Chitwood. "I wear it as a badge of honor because I, per this clown group, am on that hit list. You came to the wrong county. I stand with my Jewish friends. I'm honored to be on your hit list."

Those involved in the reported incidents used go-pro cameras and Uhauls to travel up and down International Speedway Boulevard during the Daytona 500 and traveled around the community spread messages of hate and intolerance.

"Somebody is sitting in their garage, being indoctrinated, who is going to become the next active shooter based on this, based on what they're putting out there," Chitwood said. "I don't think they have the guts to do it themselves. But there's somebody out there that will do their bidding. This is why it's important to show this show of unity."

Legislator Randy Fine was pleased to announce that the Florida Legislation will be looking to pass an anti-hate crime bill (HB269) which will hold those who participate in hate speech and crimes accountable and punishable by up to five years in prison. The legislative session begins in the coming weeks, and the bill has decent support from other state legislators.

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