In early June, a self-proclaimed Neo-Nazi was seen hanging banners with swastikas and other antisemitic and hate-filled material on a bridge near Orlando, Florida. Such displays have become increasingly prevalent over the past few years, but thanks to a new bill, supported by Agudath Israel, that makes anti-religious or -ethnic actions illegal, the police were now able to arrest the perpetrator.
HB 269 expanded the definition of hate crimes to include distributing flyers, stalking, and displaying images on others’ property, if any of the above shows religious or ethnic enmity, increasing the penalty for such actions. Agudath Israel supported the bill in all stages, in March, Rabbi Avrohom Luban, associate director of Agudath Israel’s Florida Office, testified before the Criminal Justice Committee in support of the bill. He stressed the impact antisemitic imagery and actions has on young children.
“When the Bill was proposed, we immediately showed our support. We need to protect our communities; we need to protect our children,” said Rabbi Luban. “We are grateful that the State of Florida is exercising a zero-tolerance policy and that they took tangible action to help ensure our safety.”
“We are grateful for everyone who made this a reality,” said Rabbi Moshe Matz, executive director of Agudath Israel’s Florida Office. “To State Representatives Mike Caruso and Randy Fine and State Senator Alexis Calatayud who proposed the bill, to the Legislature who passed it unanimously, to Governor Ron DeSantis who championed and signed the bill, and especially to our law enforcement officers who are dedicated to keeping us safe.”