According to Google Maps, you need to travel 600 miles — a nine-hour nonstop drive — to make it from the Florida-Georgia line to Charlottesville, Virginia. It's a 15-hour, 1,000-mile journey from Miami to the same destination.
Yet that sizable distance did not stop Florida white supremacists from showing up in droves to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville this past August 11 and 12, where a white supremacist killed a woman by driving a car into a crowd of people. In fact, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Florida was one of six states where more than ten residents were identified among the members. That puts the Sunshine State in a hate-filled league matched only by Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, and Texas.
There is one big caveat here: The ADL is counting only the people it can identify, as opposed to the entire population of neo-Nazis. The ADL's Center on Extremism says it has ID'ed only about 200 of the estimated 500 to 600 attendees on the white-power side. It's possible Floridians are just worse at hiding their hate than residents of other states. That, or the white nationalists here aren't as afraid to show their faces as those from other states.
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There is one clear reason Floridians were so easily ID'ed: The Florida League of the South, a white nationalist organization, mobilized its members in droves and made sure loads attended. Michael Tubbs, the group's leader was photographed standing near at least one group of white people using clubs and sticks to beat up a black counterprotester.
Another Florida attendee came from even closer to home: The ADL singled out Christopher Rey Monzon, AKA "Chris Cedeno," a Cuban-American white supremacist from Hialeah who has regularly carried either Confederate or white-nationalist flags and iconography at local liberal and progressive rallies. Infamously, Monzon showed up at a rally in support of former state Sen. Frank Artiles, who was then under fire for using the N-word in front of black colleagues. Monzon wore a neo-Nazi pin on his lapel. He is a member of the Florida League of the South.
But Monzon is better known for the time he was arrested for charging into a group of civil rights protesters in Hollywood and trying to stab them with a flagpole. He was booked on charges of aggravated assault and inciting a riot.
Granted, most Sunshine State residents didn't need a study to tell them Florida is full of racist maniacs (not to mention politicians who pander to those racist maniacs). But even with that in mind, the ADL's figures are troubling.
"The willingness of so many people to commit both time and financial resources to travel for the cause points to a movement energized by the leadership of the alt right, and actively capitalizing on a perceived window of opportunity to spread their message and recruit new members," the ADL wrote. "It’s also a demonstration of the alt right’s successful transition from largely an online, or virtual, phenomenon to a 'real world' movement."