Yesterday, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd, inciting intense emotions across the nation.
After only ten hours of deliberation, the jury found Chauvin guilty on all counts brought against him: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
In the minutes after Judge Peter Cahill read the verdict, politicians and pundits in Florida and around the U.S. weighed, with many praising the decision as a victory for the Black Lives Matter and police accountability movements.
But remarks from one Florida Republican stood out among the canned responses about justice and accountability. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who represents District 32 west of Orlando, condemned the jury's guilty verdict with a two-word message: "Mob justice."
Mob justice— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) April 20, 2021
Sabatini's tweet, which echoed right-wing talking points that the jury's verdict was coerced, invited intense rebuke from his fellow lawmakers.
State Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat who represents parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, accused Sabatini of being a straight-up white supremacist.
"White supremacist in 2021 wear suits and sit in the Florida legislature. Yep, I said it," Jones wrote, quoting Sabatini's tweet.
White supremacist in 2021 wear suits and sit in the Florida legislature. Yep, I said it. https://t.co/sgIuCTOLUO— Shevrin “Shev” Jones (@ShevrinJones) April 20, 2021
Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, then responded to Jones: "Thank you for saying it!!!"
Miami-Dade County Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez also slammed Sabatini, calling his comparison of the jury's verdict to mob justice a "disgrace."
Sabatini's tweet even drew the attention of actress Jameela Jamil of The Good Place, who quote-tweeted the Florida lawmaker to her 1.1 million followers.
"Speaking of mobs...," she commented, attaching photos of KKK members and MAGA supporters.
Many critics on Twitter brought up the fact that Sabatini has been accused of racist behavior in the past. In 2019, photos surfaced of a teenage Sabatini wearing blackface while dressed up as a Black friend, causing some Democrats to call for his resignation.
An ardent supporter of Donald Trump who spent last year filing what judges have called "frivolous" lawsuits against Florida cities that instituted mask mandates, Sabatini has previously thrown in his lot with white men accused of homicide. Last fall, he repeatedly tweeted in support of Kyle Rittenhouse, an 18-year-old accused of killing two Black Lives Matter protesters during a demonstration in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
KYLE RITTENHOUSE FOR CONGRESS— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) November 21, 2020
FREE KYLE RITTENHOUSE— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) November 2, 2020
FREE KYLE RITTENHOUSE NOW!— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) October 3, 2020
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the killings, traveled to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, in advance of planned Black Lives Matter protests in the area. Videos and photos posted on social media showed him holding a rifle on the day of the protest. He's charged with first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide and is now awaiting trial.
In October, Sabatini also tweeted an image with the letters "BLM," the commonly used acronym for Black Lives Matter. But the image said, "Biden's Laptop Matters" — a reference to conservative conspiracy theories regarding a computer belonging to Hunter Biden, the president's son.
Sabatini, who's 32, recently announced his intention to run for Congress in 2022.
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