Antisemitism and Extremism on the Rise in Florida, ADL Report Says

A National Socialist Movement demonstration on the west lawn of the US Capitol.
A National Socialist Movement demonstration on the west lawn of the US Capitol. Photo by D.B. King
An "alarming rise" in extremist activity throughout Florida is being driven by online misinformation and antisemitic conspiracy theories, according to the Anti-Defamation League's newly released report.

The report, "Hate in the Sunshine State: Extremism and Antisemitism in Florida," says the number of antisemitic incidents documented by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Florida rose to 190 in 2021, a 50 percent year-over-year increase.

The ADL's Center on Extremism found 400 incidents involving white supremacist propaganda occurred in Florida from January 2020 to August 2022. Ninety-five of the incidents specifically targeted the Jewish community.

"Extremist activity is surging across our state," said Sarah Emmons, the Florida regional director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). "It's critical that our leadership, government officials, and all Floridians firmly denounce hateful rhetoric and condemn anti-Semitism and extremism."

The report indicates Florida is now home to a number of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups that work hand-in-hand to disseminate hate-filled messages. These groups include the Sunshine State Nationalists, New Jersey European Heritage Association, NSDAP, and the Goyim Defense League, according to the ADL.

Extremist groups are actively recruiting and attempting to radicalize Floridians using a "robust social media presence across both mainstream and fringe platforms," the ADL says. Some of the groups have employed new twists on antisemitic world-domination conspiracy theories, purveying claims that the COVID-19 pandemic was a Jewish plot.

The ADL says that Jon Minadeo, leader of the Goyim Defense League, once proclaimed on a podcast, "They’re coming to do major torturing genocide. It’s the truth. . . These fucking kikes are going to try to put a fucking needle in your arm!”

In Florida, the ADL says, "an overlapping network of white supremacists has emerged — with the antisemitic Goyim Defense League at its center."

The report documents a string of incidents in the recent wave of antisemitism in the Sunshine State.

  • In May 2021, the Goyim Defense League, a network of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists, staged the "Name the Nose" tour throughout central and South Florida, in which the group drove in a van covered with hate symbols, hurled antisemitic slurs, and distributed racist propaganda.

  • Neo-Nazis assaulted and spat on a Jewish college student while hurling antisemitic slurs at him after he confronted them during their Orlando demonstration in January 2022, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office. Three men, including alleged Neo-Nazi leader Burt Colucci of the National Socialist Movement, were arrested in connection with the assault.

  • White supremacists hung a banner over an overpass in Orlando in February 2022, which read, "Jews are the virus." They also held signs referencing the N word.

  • In May 2022, the Goyim Defense League and Florida-based NSDAP, which is named after the Nazi Party of the Third Reich, demonstrated outside Disney World waving Nazi flags.

  • In June 2022, antisemitic flyers attacking prominent Jewish figures showed up in many neighborhood across South Florida from Parkland to Coral Gables.

  • Demonstrators associated with the Goyim Defense League waved swastikas, held signs with antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ messages and handed out bigoted flyers outside Turning Point USA's 2022 Student Action Summit in Tampa in July 2022.

The ADL's Florida findings coincide with the nationwide increase in hate crimes since Donald Trump was elected in 2016.

The FBI's most recent statistics from 2020 found the number of reported hate crime incidents increased by 949 from 2019 to a total of 8,263 incidents in 2020, despite a decrease in the number of reporting agencies. Sixty-two percent of victims were targeted because of their race or ethnicity.

The ADL has called the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol  "an inflection point for extremism in America." Through its research documenting incidents of domestic extremism, the organization showed that Florida is the state with the most residents charged in connection with the insurrection. Of 850 Capitol riot defendants catalogued by the ADL, 90 of them hail from the Sunshine State, the organization says.

Researcher Michael Jensen at the University of Maryland wrote in June that more than 75 of the Jan. 6 defendants had ties to the far-right group the Proud Boys, whose chairman at the time of the Capitol riots was Enrique Tarrio of Miami. Tarrio and four other Proud Boys were charged with seditious conspiracy for allegedly organizing and mobilizing the attack on the Capitol Building.

Jensen also noted that many of the rioters are firm believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory, which suggests Donald Trump is battling a global cabal of child-trafficking Satanists. A June 2021 survey by Morning Consult found that 49 percent of QAnon believers also believe in conspiracy theories of Jewish world domination propounded in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an antisemitic text that gained popularity in Germany and other European countries in the 1920s.
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Naomi Feinstein is a fellow at Miami New Times. She spent the last year in New York City getting her master’s degree at the Columbia School of Journalism. She is also a proud alum of the University of Miami.
Contact: Naomi Feinstein