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Hate in the Sunshine State: Extremist groups spread in Jax and Florida

NSDAP demonstrators at Disney World in Orlando in May 2022.
Anti-Defamation League
NSDAP demonstrators at Disney World in Orlando in May 2022.

A new report on extremism and antisemitism in Florida concludes that the state is home to an “extensive, interconnected network of white supremacists and other far-right extremists,” including groups operating in Jacksonville.

The report from the Anti-Defamation League identifies several extremist groups with ties to Duval County. They include NatSoc Florida, a neo-Nazi group that has demonstrations and distributed anti-LGBT propaganda in Jax neighborhoods; the anti-Semitic Goyim Defense League; and the white-supremacist Patriot Front. Black extremist groups also are linked to Jax, such as the Nation of Islam and New Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

The ADL reports that hate crimes and anti-Semitism are on a steady rise in Florida. From January 2020 to August 2022, the ADL Center on Extremism recorded over 400 instances of white supremacist propaganda distribution in Florida.

In 2021, the number of reported incidents increased 50% over 2020 numbers, rising from 127 to 190. This included 142 instances of harassment, 47 instances of vandalism and one antisemitic assault, the ADL report said.

In Jacksonville, NatSoc Florida — or NSF — has dramatically expanded its activities since July, holding demonstrations and distributing anti-Semitic propaganda in several Jacksonville neighborhoods, the report said.

Individuals associated with NSF held an anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ+ demonstration outside a restaurant in Jacksonville in June, wearing shirts with swastikas and holding signs that read, "Child groomers work here." Videos of the incident show the white supremacists harassing the restaurant’s patrons.

The ADL report offers recommendations such as prioritizing anti-bias and Holocaust education and disrupting hate groups through law enforcement.

It also calls on elected officials and community leaders to "strongly and consistently" condemn anti-Semitism and extremism.