Photo credit: Dave Decker
Hate in the Sunshine State: Extremism & Antisemitism in Florida, 2020-2022
This report examines the extremist and antisemitic trends and incidents in the state of Florida from 2020 to the present.
The past two years have seen a significant increase in extremist related incidents both nationwide and in the state of Florida. These incidents have been driven, in part, by widespread disinformation and conspiracy theories which have animated extremists and fueled antisemitism. The result: unrest and violence, from the January 6 insurrection to white supremacist activity to a spike in hate crimes.
In Florida, new white supremacist groups have formed, including White Lives Matter, Sunshine State Nationalists, NatSoc Florida and Florida Nationalists, while existing neo-Nazi and accelerationist groups have broadened their audience both online and on the ground activities. Other extremist groups such as Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys have shifted their strategies to focus on the local level, disrupting school board meetings and even running for political office.
Top Level Findings: Florida
- Florida is home to an extensive, interconnected network of white supremacists and other far-right extremists. This network, which often collaborates in planning and executing propaganda distribution campaigns, banner drops and in-person demonstrations, includes the White Lives Matter (WLM) network, the antisemitic Goyim Defense League (GDL), the New Jersey European Heritage Association (NJEHA), NSDAP (named after the Nazi Party of Germany), the neo-Nazi Sunshine State Nationalists (SSN), NatSoc Florida (NSF) and the National Socialist Movement (NSM). Many of the individuals in this network, which includes dozens, attend events organized by multiple groups giving each group an outsized appearance.
- From January 2020 to August 2022, ADL Center on Extremism (COE) recorded over 400 instances of white supremacist propaganda distribution in Florida. The overwhelming majority of these incidents involved the white supremacist groups Patriot Front and the New Jersey European Heritage Association. Ninety-five of these incidents included antisemitic language or symbols, targeted Jewish institutions, or both. Propaganda allows extremists to disseminate hateful messages and gain attention with little risk of public exposure.
- Florida is home to the most people charged in relation to the January 6 insurrection. Of the 855 individuals charged in connection to the insurrection, 90 (10.5%) hail from the state of Florida.
- Hate crimes continued to rise in the state of Florida over the last several years. According to the FBI’s 2020 Hate Crime Statistics report (the most recent data available), 56.1% of nationally reported religion-based hate crimes in 2020 targeted the Jewish community. In Florida, hate crimes against Jews accounted for 80% of the religiously motivated incidents in 2020, and antisemitic hate crimes have risen 300% since 2012.
- Florida has seen a dramatic rise in antisemitic incidents, according to ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. 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.
- In August of 2022, COE found a significant increase in violent rhetoric in right-wing online spaces following the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property. Threats have largely targeted federal law enforcement and Department of Justice officials, including specific law enforcement officers who were onsite for the search and magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who signed off on the search warrant.
The National Extremist Landscape
Domestic extremist activity is on the rise in the U.S. and poses a considerable risk to our country. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released four terrorism advisory bulletins, rather than its usual two, underscoring a uniquely heightened threat environment. In March 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report specifically highlighting the increased threat posed by Domestic Violence Extremists (DVEs). This assessment stated that “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) and militia violent extremists (MVEs) present the most lethal DVE threats” and are most likely to conduct mass causality attacks.
In January 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) issued a Joint Intelligence Bulletin specifically detailing the “enduring nature of violent threats posed to Jewish communities.” This bulletin, issued in the wake of a hostage situation that took place at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, highlighted the threat that violent extremists pose to Jewish intuitions and targets and the likelihood for copycat attacks to occur.
Against this backdrop, the Center on Extremism (COE) actively monitors and tracks many extremist groups and individuals across the state of Florida. The breadth of extremist activities includes spreading propaganda, holding rallies and even participating in violence.
These groups maintain a robust social media presence across both mainstream and fringe platforms. From behind their computer screens, individuals and groups recruit, radicalize and organize on both the national and local levels. They use message boards, chats and channels to share propaganda materials, engage in antisemitic conspiracy theorizing, promote violence and plan in-person events. Media coverage of their incidents is used to boast their perceived successes, raise money and further bolster their followings.
The following report:
- Examines key active extremist groups, movements and individuals in Florida, detailing their activities from January 1, 2020, to the date of publication
- Provides in-depth assessment of recent extremism trends in Florida
- Evaluates Floridians’ participation in the January 6 insurrection
- Offers action steps and policy recommendations to counter this rise in domestic extremism
Who’s Who — Florida’s Extremist Landscape
Overlapping White Supremacist/Antisemitic Network
In the state of Florida, an overlapping network of white supremacists has emerged—with the antisemitic Goyim Defense League (GDL) at its center. This network, which often collaborates in planning and executing propaganda distribution campaigns, banner drops, and in-person demonstrations, also includes White Lives Matter (WLM), the New Jersey European Heritage Association (NJEHA), NSDAP (named after the Nazi Party of Germany), Sunshine State Nationalists (SSN), NatSoc Florida (NSF) and the National Socialist Movement (NSM). More information on these groups is provided below.
Many of the individuals in this network, which includes dozens of people, attend events organized by multiple groups. This tactic gives the appearance of larger numbers, and the actions can affect entire communities. This was the case in January 2022, when more than a dozen individuals associated with this white supremacist network participated in a neo-Nazi demonstration in Orlando during which several of the attendees spat on, pepper-sprayed and punched a Jewish man who stopped to confront the group. In February 2022, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department arrested and charged three people for their alleged roles in the hate crime assault; NSM leader Burt Colucci and Joshua Terrell, a racist skinhead from Bedford Indiana, are charged with hate crime assault, while Florida-based white supremacist Jason J. Brown has been charged with grand theft.
Goyim Defense League (GDL): GDL, a loose network of antisemitic provocateurs, have established a significant presence in Florida, including Dominic Di Giorgio, who helped launch the network’s video streaming platform and the GDL’s online store. Led by Jon Minadeo II of Petaluma, California, GDL’s overarching goal is to cast aspersion on Jews and spread antisemitic myths and conspiracy theories. In the state of Florida, GDL overlaps with a network of white supremacists and antisemites that routinely distribute propaganda and hold small street actions.
In May 2021, the GDL led an antisemitic “Name the Nose” tour in central and south Florida, which consisted of 15 straight days of antisemitic stunts including demonstrations outside Jewish institutions, banner drops and propaganda distributions. They also drove around in a van covered in antisemitic and white supremacist symbols, slurs and phrases while shouting profanity-laced slurs from the windows.
The GDL van used during GDL’s May 2021 tour in Florida
In October 2021, Di Gorgio—using his personal van—drove approximately six Florida-based GDL devotees to Texas to participate in a similar “tour” in southeastern Texas. During the tour, while driving members of the group during their antisemitic and racist activities, Di Gorgio was arrested for possession of a license plate flipper which allows a vehicle’s owner to “flip” between two license plates.
Jason J. Brown, a Florida-based neo-Nazi who has been active with GDL since at least November 2020, assisted with the organization of GDL’s May tour in Florida and attended the Texas tour, along with Di Gorgio. Originally from New Jersey, Brown is also associated with the NJEHA and the NSM. He has attended some of the “White Lives Matter” events in south and central Florida. In addition to charges related to the previously mentioned January 2022 hate crime assault in Orlando, Brown is also facing unrelated felony domestic battery by strangulation charges in Brevard County.
National Socialist Movement (NSM): NSM is a neo-Nazi group with membership scattered around the country. Openly worshipful of Hitler, the group is one of the most explicitly neo-Nazi organizations in the United States. Its platform calls for an all-white “greater America” that would deny citizenship and virtually all legal protection to non-whites, Jews and the LGBTQ+ population. NSM reserves the brunt of its vitriol for Jews and immigrants, espousing crudely racist and antisemitic ideology.
NSM is currently led by longtime member Burt Colucci, of Kissimmee, Florida. In addition to charges stemming from the January 2022 hate crime assault in Orlando, Colucci faces several additional charges for allegedly threatening violence. In December of 2021, Colucci was indicted on two counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and one count of felony disorderly conduct. Those charges stem from an incident in April of 2021 during which Colucci allegedly pointed a handgun at a group of Black people during an argument and sprayed chemical agents into their vehicle in Chandler, Arizona.
While the NSM is much smaller than it was a decade ago, group members have attended multiple rallies in Florida, often in partnership with the NJEHA, WLM, the GDL or other white supremacist organizations. NSM members have travelled from as far as Washington state to attend these events.
Prominent Florida-based NSM member David Howard Wydner has claimed in online NSM chats that he is “spending every waking hour to increase the size of our protests in Florida where I live.” Wydner also posted that his goal is to “become the most hated man in Florida.”
Wydner came to the attention of COE after he engaged in a racist and homophobic rant at a Best Buy in Port Richey, Florida that was caught on video and shared on YouTube on December 12, 2021. In the video, Wydner is seen screaming and cursing at Best Buy staff, shouting “white power” and the antisemitic catchphrase “the goyim know,” and showing off his swastika tattoo. In December 2021, he participated in a White Lives Matter event in Deland, Florida, wearing an NSM-branded shirt and hat. The following day, he participated in a banner drop with members of the GDL in Port Saint John, Florida, on the Ranch Road overpass above I-95, which included a banner that read: "expel the Jews 2022.” Wydner’s active affiliation with NSM, WLM, and GDL illustrates Florida’s overlapping network of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and antisemites that are working together to share and spread their hateful views.
New Jersey European Heritage Association (NJEHA): The NJEHA is a New Jersey-based white supremacist group that is active in multiple states including Florida. Founded in 2018, NJEHA believes it is protecting white European people and culture from extinction; their ideology is represented via the group’s propaganda distribution, banner drops, flash demonstrations and other public actions. Their propaganda promotes racism and includes antisemitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-Israel themes.
NSDAP: The NSDAP is a small, Florida-based neo-Nazi group named after the Nazi Party of the Third Reich. Led by Colby “Ace” Alexander Frank of Florida, the group is most active on the end-to-end encrypted chat service, Telegram, but also operates their own website.
NSDAP demonstrators at Disney World in Orlando in May 2022
NSDAP distributes their own white supremacist propaganda promoting their website, as well as GDL flyers and leaflets. NSDAP members frequently attend White Lives Matter Florida events and rallies, and in February of 2022, they held their own demonstration outside of the Daytona 500 NASCAR event in Daytona Beach, an event that draws more than 100,000 people from across the U.S.
Sunshine State Nationalists (SSN): SSN are a new Florida-based neo-Nazi organization established in early 2022 by “Pale Heretic,” an associate of GDL and NSM. The group, which refers to itself as “Ron’s Holocaust Task Force,” a reference to Governor DeSantis, engages in activism “to free the state from Jewish rule from Miami, Dayton, Palm Beach County and Boca Raton.”
SSN is highly integrated into Florida’s white supremacist network, often operating in conjunction with other groups. In February of 2022, “Pale Heretic” joined GDL affiliates in a banner drop on an overpass in Orlando which proceeded a rally outside of the venue for the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where SSN and GDL displayed messages reading “Jews are the virus,” “don’t say n*gger,” and “antisemitism is a human right.” The events were livestreamed on GDL’s antisemitic streaming platform. In April of 2022, Christopher Fara, an Orange County-based neo-Nazi, former skinhead and leader of White Lives Matter Florida, held a demonstration outside of Disney World with approximately three other individuals, distributing GDL and SSN-branded propaganda.
NatSoc Florida (NSF): NSF is an emerging Duval County-based neo-Nazi organization established by white supremacist Joshua Dan Nunes of Jacksonville, who was identified by the Center on Extremism in June of 2022. Since July 2022, the group has dramatically expanded its range of activities, holding demonstrations and distributing antisemitic GDL propaganda along with their own.
White Lives Matter (WLM): WLM is a network of white supremacists who engage in “pro-white activism” on a designated day each month. WLM promotes a white supremacist worldview, advocating for raising “white racial consciousness” and the eventual formation of white ethnostates in North America, Europe and Australia. Founded in 2021, the growing network maintains an active presence in more than two dozen states, including Florida. WLM’s Florida network is led by Christopher Fara.
In Florida, the local WLM network routinely rallies alongside members of the antisemitic GDL and neo-Nazi groups such as the NSM, NJEHA and NSDAP.
WLM Florida has condemned these outside groups on occasion. During a November 2021 WLM rally in Orlando, members of NSM and GDL shouted racist and antisemitic slurs at passing vehicles. Subsequently, WLM Florida issued a statement, writing on Telegram that “several people showed up today that did not promote pro white [sic] unity. Instead, they used our event as a platform to troll and yell obscenities. We do NOT condone this behavior and will be banning anyone who does this in the future.” Despite this statement, WLM Florida maintains close ties to, and continues to rally alongside, members of GDL and NSM.
GDL actor Zack Parrott during a WLM Florida rally in January 2022
- August 2022 - Approximately ten individuals associated with NSF held a rally on a Pinellas County overpass. The demonstrators, which included the group’s founder, Joshua Dan Nunes of Jacksonville, held several banners with white supremacist and antisemitic language, reading: “End abortion, save white babies,” “Communism is Jewish (with images of a hammer and sickle and a Star of David),” “NatSoc Florida (with images of the group’s logo and a swastika)” and “Problem (next to images of a hammer and sickle and a Star of David), Solution (next to images of the group’s logo and a swastika).” They also displayed a German Reich flag with a swastika and a flag with a sonnenrad symbol.
- July 2022 - Approximately ten individuals associated with GDL, NSM and SSN held a demonstration outside Turning Point USA’s 2022 Student Action Summit event in Tampa. The group waved flags with swastikas, SS bolts and the phrase “DeSantis Country,” and held signs with racist, anti-LGBTQ+, and antisemitic rhetoric. They also distributed antisemitic GDL flyers to passersby. The following day, a group of approximately seven individuals associated with NSF, including Joshua Nunes, demonstrated outside the event, holding Nazi battle flags and wearing masks and shirts with the group’s logo.
- June 2022 - Individuals associated with NSF, including Joshua Nunes, held an antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ+ demonstration outside the Hamburger Mary's restaurant in Jacksonville, wearing shirts with swastikas and holding signs that read: “Child groomers work here,” “Fags groom kids,” “Grooming progress” and “Judaism allows child rape.” Videos of the incident show the white supremacists harassing the restaurant’s patrons. The group also distributed anti-LGBTQ+ flyers in several Jacksonville neighborhoods.
- May 2022 - Approximately eight individuals associated with WLM Florida, including three local Proud Boys, demonstrated outside Walt Disney World in Orlando. They held signs that read, “White lives matter,” “They want 2 enslave us, watch Europa Last Battle” and “PedoWorld”—with a Star of David replacing the “o” in “pedo.”
- May 2022 - Approximately six individuals flying Nazi flags staged a protest outside Disney World in Orlando on May 7, 2022. Among the demonstrators were NSM, GDL and WLM affiliate David Wydner and NSDAP leader Colby Frank.
- April 2022 - Individuals associated with WLM Florida and SSN held a demonstration outside Walt Disney World in Orlando. They held signs that read, “White people first” and “Love your race.” Participants also passed out antisemitic flyers created by SSN and GDL.
- February 2022 - Four members of the NSDAP held a demonstration outside of the Daytona 500, an event that attracted more than 100,000 spectators. NSDAP members waved swastikas flags and held up banners promoting GDL’s antisemitic conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 and President Biden’s administration.
- February 2022 - Approximately six individuals associated with the NSM and GDL hung banners from an overpass in Orlando that read, “Jews are the virus” and “Don’t say n*gger.” They later held a roadside protest near the entrance to the venue for CPAC waving swastika flags and holding signs that read “Antisemitism is a human right” and “Stop nigger abortion.” The demonstration, which was streamed on GDL’s video streaming platform, resulted in a confrontation with CPAC attendees. GDL affiliated streamer and provocateur, Adam “Dream Eskimo” Brooks Donaldson of Jacksonville, hosted the livestream in blackface. SSN founder Pale Heretic was also present.
- January 2022 - A group of individuals associated with the NSM and GDL demonstrated on an interstate overpass near Kissimmee. The group waved Nazi flags and hung banners from the overpass that read, “Vax the Jews” and “Let’s go Brandon,” a phrase used by Trump supporters as thinly veiled “code” for “fuck Joe Biden.”
- January 2022 - Approximately six individuals associated with WLM Florida, including known members of GDL, the NJEHA and the NSDAP, held a demonstration in Mount Dora. One individual held a sign that read, "Fuck the Jews."
- January 2022 – Approximately 16 individuals associated with the NSM, GDL, and WLM participated in a roadside demonstration in Orlando. Participants included individuals from Florida, Indiana, Nevada and Washington. In February, the Orange County Sheriff's Department arrested three of the demonstrators for their alleged roles in a hate crime attack that occurred during the rally.
- January 2022 - Approximately six individuals associated with the NSDAP held a flash demonstration in Deland. One person held a sign that read, "fuck the Jews". NJEHA and GDL member Jason Brown was present, as was Colby Frank, holding a banner promoting his NSDAP website, with the message, “White man, your children need you.”
- December 2021 – Individuals associated with the GDL held a banner drop in Port Saint John, Florida, on the Ranch Road overpass above I-95, which included a banner that read, "Expel the Jews 2022.”
- December 2021 - Approximately two dozen individuals associated with WLM Florida held a roadside demonstration in Deland. Individuals associated with NSM and GDL, including David Wydner, also participated.
- November 2021 - NSM leader Burt Colucci and NJEHA and GDL member Jason Brown joined a WLM Florida flash demonstration in Orlando.
- November 2021 - Approximately a dozen individuals associated with WLM, GDL and NSM held a roadside demonstration in Orlando.
Additional White Supremacist Groups operating in Florida
In addition to the overlapping white supremacist network, other white supremacist groups also operate in the state of Florida. These groups are not aligned with the groups in the aforementioned white supremacist network and operate independently, each holding their own events and spreading their “brand” of white supremacist propaganda.
America First/Groyper Movement: Florida has become a hotbed for “America First” and Groyper activity in recent years, a loose network of alt right figures who are vocal supporters of white supremacist and America First podcast host Nick Fuentes. Fuentes’ followers, the so-called “Groyper army,” present their ideology as more nuanced by aligning with “Christianity” and “traditional” American values. Like the other white supremacists, Groypers believe that they are working to defend against demographic and cultural changes that are destroying the “true America”—a white, Christian nation.
Groypers identify themselves as “American nationalists” who are part of the “America First” movement. To the Groypers, “America First” means that the U.S. should close its border, bar immigrants, oppose globalism and promote “traditional” values like Christianity, while opposing “liberal” values such as feminism and LGBTQ+ rights. Groypers claim not to be racist or antisemitic and see their bigoted views as “normal” and necessary to preserve white, European-American identity and culture; however, members repeatedly express racist and antisemitic views both online and on the ground.
Many Groypers have recently relocated to Florida. On March 8, 2022, Nicholas J. Fuentes announced his plan to move from Chicago to Florida in the coming months and announced the construction of an “America First” studio in the state. Other Groypers, including Lauren Witzke, Anthime Gionet (“Baked Alaska”) and Jared Noble (Woozuh) along with Tyler Russell, the leader of Canada First, the “Canadian branch” of Fuentes’ America First movement, also recently moved to the state.
Groyper propaganda alleging Florida is America First Territory.
Since 2020, movement leader Fuentes and “America First” have organized the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) to serve as a white supremacist counterweight to the annual CPAC event held in Orlando in February. AFPAC III, held in 2022, featured nine speakers, including white supremacists, media personalities and political figures, most notably, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Various “special guests” were also in attendance, white supremacists Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow among them.
Fuentes also organized a Big Tech Press Conference in Florida in April 2021, which was attended by a variety of right-wing speakers who have aligned themselves with Fuentes including Michele Malkin, Lauren Witzke and Laura Loomer. Enrique Tarrio and other Proud Boys were also present, but Fuentes did not attend the conference after claiming that he had been placed on the federal No Fly List for his role in the January 6 insurrection.
“America First’s” success in attracting sizeable attendance –including right wing-influencers and elected officials – to events in Florida, like AFPAC and the Big Tech Conference, show the rallying potential of Fuentes and the “America First” movement. The state will likely continue to serve as a staging ground for the white supremacist movement.
In August 2022, Alejandro Richard Velasquez Gomez was arrested after he allegedly threatened on social media to carry out a mass shooting at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit event in Tampa. The FBI alleges that Gomez posted on his Instagram: “July 22 [the first day of the event] is the day of retribution that day I will have revenge against all humanity which all of you will pay for my suffering [sic].” Gomez has been charged with making threatening interstate communications, along with possession of child pornography. In 2021, Gomez, who is also a self-described incel, or involuntary celibate, met and took a picture with Nick Fuentes at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Gomez (right) and Nick Fuentes (left) at CPAC in July 2021
- February 2022 - Approximately 1,200 individuals attended the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC III) in Orlando, where nine individuals, including white supremacists, media personalities and political figures spoke.
- April 2021 - America First and Nicholas Fuentes organized a “Big Tech Press Conference” in Palm Beach, which featured far-right speakers Michelle Malkin, Lauren Witzke and Laura Loomer.
- February 2021 - AFPAC II hosted a variety of right-wing pundits in Orlando, including Michelle Malkin and Steve King, along with white supremacists like Vincent James of the Red Elephant.
- February 2020 – For its inaugural conference event in Orlando, AFPAC featured a speaker lineup of various alt-right figures including Scott Greer, Patrick Casey and Michelle Malkin.
Endangered Souls: Originally a white supremacist motorcycle riding club, the Endangered Souls are a tiny Florida-based “social club” also referred to as Crew 519, an alpha numeric representation of “E” and “S.” Led by Shawn Mann of Bradenton, the Endangered Souls are dedicated to the advancement and preservation of the white race and have been known to distribute propaganda and hold small private gatherings.
Florida Nationalists: The Florida Nationalists are a neo-Nazi group active throughout the state, but especially in south Florida, where they distribute propaganda and stage small demonstrations. Though established in early 2022, the Florida Nationalists have already spread messaging to large audiences using quick response (QR) codes on stickers and flyers. These scannable codes, displayed alongside cryptic messaging like “scan me if white” and “the only way to keep Florida red is to keep Florida white,” quickly navigate passersby to the group’s accounts and other sites that share their antisemitic and white supremacist ideology.
In May of 2022, an individual associated with the group prominently displayed a banner reading “end the war on whites” written above the group’s logo, a Totenkopf with sunglasses, at the Broward County Main Library in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Florida Nationalists in Fort Lauderdale May 2022
League of the South (LoS): LoS is a white supremacist group that advocates for southern secession and an independent, white-dominated South. Originally a neo-Confederate organization, LoS, and its founder and leader, Michael Hill of Killian, Alabama, have adopted overtly racist and antisemitic rhetoric. The group organizes white supremacist rallies, private conferences and occasional flash demonstrations.
Even in its early years, the LoS attracted some hard-core extremists to its ranks, including Michael Tubbs, a Florida-based white supremacist. In 1987, Tubbs and another person assaulted and robbed two Black soldiers at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, while yelling, “this is for the Klan.” Authorities discovered an arsenal of weapons and explosives connected to Tubbs, much of it stolen from military installations—and some subsequently sold to white supremacist groups. By then, Tubbs had his own group, the Knights of the New Order, and was plotting to target black and Jewish-owned businesses. In 1991, Tubbs pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges, and following his release from prison, he joined the LoS and eventually became a leader in its Florida chapter. Tubbs remains a key member of the LoS as leader of the Florida chapter and as a de facto “right-hand” of Michael Hill.
Another Florida-based LoS member is William Finck, a Christian Identity preacher who operates a Christian Identity network called Christogenea.
Though relatively inactive compared to other extremist groups in the state, the LoS continues to network, recruit and hold events in Florida. In June 2022, the LoS held their annual national conference in Lake City, which included as speakers founder Michael Hill, and prominent white supremacists David Duke and Kevin MacDonald. The Florida chapter also hosts an annual conference in the Lake City area.
- June 2022 – The LoS held their annual National Conference in Lake City.
- August 2021 - The Florida LoS chapter held their annual state conference in Lake City.
- July 2020 - Approximately 5 members of LoS held a roadside flash demonstration in Crawfordville.
Patriot Front: Patriot Front is a white supremacist group whose members maintain that their ancestors conquered America and bequeathed it to them alone. They define themselves as American fascists or American nationalists who are focused on preserving American’s identity as a European-American one. Starting in 2020, Patriot Front transitioned from using explicit antisemitic and white supremacist language in its propaganda to more covert bigoted language, promoting a form of “patriotism” that emboldens white supremacy, xenophobia, antisemitism, and fascism. Patriot Front often uses its rhetoric and propaganda to target its perceived enemies. This has included leaving flyers at a Black church, stickering LGBTQ+ community centers and vandalizing George Floyd memorials and other inclusiveness murals in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Kentucky.
Since it splintered from Vanguard America in 2017, Patriot Front has grown into one of the most prominent and consistently active white supremacist groups operating within the United States. In 2021, Patriot Front distributed nearly 4,000 pieces of propaganda – more than 82 percent of all white supremacist propaganda incidents nationally – distributing propaganda in every state except Hawaii and Alaska. As revealed in their communications, leaked by Unicorn Riot in January 2022, these high propaganda numbers are driven by a weekly propaganda quota which members are required to meet. Florida remained a target for many of the group's actions.
Patriot Front is led by a national team, directed by Thomas Rousseau, and “networks,” which oversee the state level activities including meetings, propaganda distributions, and local recruitment. Patriot Front Florida, Network 16, is led by Stephen James Trimboli, aka “Lawrence FL."
Since January 2021, there have been 150 incidents of Patriot Front activity in the state of Florida. The majority of these incidents involved white supremacist propaganda in the form of graffiti, banner drops, and flyers. In October 2021, approximately a dozen Patriot Front members ran a paramilitary drill in Tallahassee, Florida, where members took part in shield-wall maneuvers, extraction drills and other training. Each regional network was allegedly expected to hold these drilling sessions in preparation for their December 2021 annual flash demonstration in Washington, D.C. On June 11, 2022, one of the key organizers of the Tallahassee training event, Wesley Evan Van Horn, was arrested along with 30 other Patriot Front members on misdemeanor criminal conspiracy charges after police stopped their U-Haul truck near a “Pride in the Park” event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. According to law enforcement reports, individuals were found with a smoke bomb and riot shields. Van Horn, who lives in Alabama, is an alleged regional “Network Director,” covering the areas of northern Alabama, Georgia and southern Tennessee, who traveled to Florida for the training.
- March 2022 - Patriot Front distributed propaganda in Melbourne Beach that read: “a life of our nation, liberty of our people, victory of the America spirit,” “better dead than red” and “not stolen, conquered.”
- February 2022 - Patriot Front distributed propaganda in Tallahassee that read: “not stolen, conquered” and “united we stand.”
- January 2022 - Patriot Front hung a banner from an overpass in Haines City that read, “better dead than red.”
- December 2021 - Patriot Front hung a banner at a soccer complex in Auburndale that read, “America first.”
- October 2021 - Patriot Front hung a banner from an overpass in Jacksonville that read, “life, liberty, victory.”
- October 2021 – Approximately a dozen Patriot Front members held a paramilitary training session in Tallahassee. Members took part in ballistic shield-wall maneuvers, extraction drills and other training.
Patriot Front members drill in Tallahassee (Source: Tallahassee Democrat)
Unforgiven: The Unforgiven are a large white supremacist prison/street gang based in in Florida. Members and associates of the group have faced mounting legal issues in 2021.
Sixteen members were arrested in July 2021 for violent crimes in aid of racketeering including murder, kidnapping, robbery and obstruction of justice. Included in those arrested was David Allen Howell of Zolfo Springs who was charged with assaulting protestors by allegedly pulling a machete at a “Peace Walk for Black Lives” in June 2020.
In July 2021, Unforgiven member Michael Curzio of Summerfield was sentenced to six months incarceration and $500 in restitution after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor for his participation in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building.
United Skinhead Nation (USN): USN is a small Okeechobee-based racist skinhead crew that was formed by John Kopko in mid-2018 after leaving the Hammerskins, one of the oldest hardcore racist skinhead groups in the United States. USN has a small national presence and is structured with regional crews. USN typically holds an annual event called “Swamp Fest,” a private white supremacist festival featuring food, speakers and music.
USN members participating in Swamp Fest October 2020
Vinlanders Social Club (VSC): The VSC is a small hardcore racist skinhead gang that originated in the mid-west in the mid-2000s. It has a high association with violence, including multiple murders. Today, the largest chapter of the gang resides in Florida and is led by Don Hansard of Davie.
Since 2018, VSC Florida has fostered an alliance with the Unforgiven prison gang. When referencing the alliance members use the phrase “Only the Folk.” In August 2018, Hansard wrote on Facebook, “OTF transcends crew lines. We are one Folk.” In May 2021, members of both gangs traveled together to visit Stone Mountain Park in Georgia.
VSC and Unforgiven members at private gathering in November 2020
The Proud Boys are a right-wing extremist group with a violent agenda. They are primarily misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration. Some members espouse white supremacist and antisemitic ideologies and/or engage with white supremacist groups. Proud Boys are known to attend public rallies and protests sporting black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts, other black and yellow clothing, and tactical vests. Members have been known to engage in violent tactics and several members have been convicted of violent crimes.
2020 was a significant year for the Proud Boys, during which the group solidified its status as one of the most visible and most active right-wing extremist group in the country. As the nation grappled with the pandemic, members of the Proud Boys became a regular sight at anti-lockdown protests, using the demonstrations not only to raise their profile, but as recruitment opportunities. In 2021, Proud Boys members accounted for the highest numbers of extremist arrestees in relation to the January 6 insurrection, including at least eleven Floridians who allegedly belong to local Proud Boys chapters. Additionally, Proud Boys latched on to anti-mask and anti-vaccine activism, attending, and at times disrupting, school board meetings as well as related protests and rallies.
In 2022, the Proud Boys continue to struggle with leadership issues as influential members remain incarcerated and face legal challenges related to their participation in the January 6 insurrection. In June 2022, former National Chairman of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, and four other influential Proud Boys members were also charged with seditious conspiracy related to the insurrection. These are some of the most serious charges levied against any insurrection participants and the charges carry a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years if convicted. This is, in part, why the Proud Boys have moved to a more grassroots leadership and organizational structure, with individual chapters exerting increased autonomy. Coalitions of chapters have developed in Florida, with some chapters aligned with former National Chairman Enrique Tarrio, and other chapters aligning around their distaste for Tarrio. This distancing is based on the political, rally-going, and often violent, direction Tarrio took the group and also based on allegations that broke in January 2021, claiming that Tarrio was an FBI informant. In February 2022, Tarrio told the Miami New Times that he would be taking a step back from leadership of the Proud Boy after organizing "the mess in South Florida's Proud Boys."
There are 15 chapters affiliated with the Proud Boys in the state of Florida, which has been divided into 6 “zones.” Most Florida chapters are actively recruiting new members through their own Telegram channels and websites.
The former Proud Boys National Chairman, Enrique Tarrio, founded the original Miami “Vice City” chapter of the Proud Boys, and thus Florida has served as a major hub of Proud Boys activity and influence.
2021 was a year of major changes for the Proud Boys. Tarrio was absent from the Insurrection on January 6, 2021, having been arrested two days prior for the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner outside of a historic Black church and for the possession of a high-capacity firearm magazine. However, Tarrio was allegedly still directing insurrection related action according to federal charges in an indictment of Tarrio and five other Proud Boys members. Tarrio spent five months in prison in 2021 on charges related to the banner burning, and quickly returned to prison with the new federal charges related to his role in inciting the insurrection. 2021 saw the split of the Miami chapter and major friction and in-fighting between Florida Proud Boys members. In January 2021, allegations broke that Tarrio was an FBI informant which led to initial descension within the group and leading a few chapters, including chapters outside of Florida, to declare autonomy from the National Proud Boys organization. The Vice City (Miami) chapter, which Tarrio founded, turned against him and this chapter was denounced by the national Proud Boys organization. After this denunciation, a new South Florida chapter was formed.
In February 2022, Tarrio told the Miami New Times that he was stepping down as National Chairman of the Proud Boys and planned to create a new organization for political activism for right-wing causes. Since Tarrio’s arrest on March 8, 2022, on federal charges related to the Insurrection, his future involvement with the Proud Boys remains uncertain. For the Proud Boys as an organization, this means it is time to find a new leader or lean further into chapter autonomy and let individual chapter presidents make their own rules. Currently, it is a fight between autonomy and a national leadership still clinging to and attempting to assert control over the chapters. Confusion has punctuated the first half of 2022 for the Proud Boys organization without clear national leadership or direction and as a result, chapters have taken more of the reins. Previously "denounced" chapters have ignored their exclusion from the national organization and have continued to operate as autonomous Proud Boys chapters.
According to the New York Times, at least 6 current and former members of the Proud Boys have seats on the 2021-2022 Miami-Dade Republican Executive Committee. Of the Proud Boys on the committee, two are facing federal charges related to their participation in the insurrection. Proud Boys membership on this committee represents the Proud Boys most successful foray into local politics by far, a strategy increasingly encouraged over the past two years as the National Proud Boys leadership lost influence and eventually dissolved with many of the leading Proud Boys members incarcerated and/or facing charges related to the insurrection.
Proud Boys in Miami, May 2021
- July 2022 - At least three members of the Proud Boys counter-protested at a trans-rights rally in Orlando. Two Proud Boys held signs which read “Stop grooming kids” with a Star of David and “Trannies are mentally ill” respectively.
- April 2022 - Proud Boys showed up at a rally for women’s rights organized by Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida at a park in downtown Sarasota. The rally, called “March for Our Futures,” featured several Democratic speakers. Approximately 12 police officers and 12 Proud Boys were at the park where the march was set to end, and they stayed until the event concluded. The Proud Boys waved flags and yelled slogans condemning abortion and in support of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Proud Boys also brandished signs that read, “Stop grooming children! Respect a parent’s rights!” and “No groomers in Florida!”
- August 2021 - Proud Boys participated in a “Free our Political Prisoners” event at the John E. Pole Correctional Facility in Sandford. The White Lives Matter (WLM) Florida chapter joined members of the Proud Boys, including then National Chairman Enrique Tarrio, to protest the imprisonment of “Jan 6 [sic] Patriots,” specifically Florida Proud Boy Joe Biggs, who was incarcerated in the facility. Photos from the event show Tarrio posing behind a large “White Lives Matter” banner.
- July 2021 - Former Proud Boys National Chairman Enrique Tarrio joined a Miami rally alongside Cuban exiles to demand support for the thousands of Cubans who protested their government’s policies a few days earlier. The rally took place in front of the Versailles Restaurant in South Florida.
- July 2021 - Approximately 100 people, including at least a dozen Proud Boys, participated in a “Free our Patriots Rally in Tally” event at the Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee. The event was organized by Luis Miguel, a 2022 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.
- June 2021 - Proud Boys, including then National Chairman Enrique Tarrio, staged a protest in opposition to critical race theory and mask requirements outside of the Miami-Dade County School Board Administration building in Miami. In a photo from Tarrio’s Telegram channel, two signs at that protest read “CRT= Marxism, Marxism → genocide every time,” and “no more indoctrinating, no more brainwashing,” written over a mock Soviet hammer and sickle.
- June 2021 - Members of the Vice City (Miami) Proud Boys, including then National Chairman Enrique Tarrio, unfurled a banner at LoanDepot Park, home to the Miami Marlins, that read, “Proud Boys did nothing wrong, free all political prisoners 1/6/21." A second banner was also hung from the stadium rafters, which read, “Trump won, take back America,” alongside the Proud Boys logo.
- May 2021 – Several Proud Boys protested Disney’s response to Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education”—also known as “Don’t Say Gay”—legislation alongside members of the White Lives Matter network in Orlando.
- May 2021 - Proud Boys, including then National Chairman Enrique Tarrio, joined a pro-Israel protest in Fort Lauderdale, posing for photos with protestors and allegedly providing voluntary security for the group.
- April 2021 - Proud Boys attended “Trumparilla,” a multi-day MAGA rally at a Trump-themed coffee shop in Largo, where Roger Stone also spoke at a VIP Fundraiser to kick off the weekend, according to Vice.
- December 2020 - Several Proud Boys from Florida, including then National Chairman Enrique Tarrio, participated in the “Million MAGA March” in Washington, D.C. Floridians coordinated on the social media platform Parler to arrange rides to the rally.
- October 2020 - Proud Boys provided security for an event attended by Republican congressman Matt Gaetz in Milton. His office confirmed that the Proud Boys provided security for the event.
- April 2020 - Proud Boys participated in a “Reopen Florida” rally outside of the Miami Museum of Art and Design.
- April 2020 - Members of the Vice City (Miami) chapter of the Proud Boys participated in an anti-lockdown demonstration outside of Miami City Hall, displaying a banner that read, “fuck the Chinese government.”
Oath Keepers: The Oath Keepers are a large but loosely organized national collection of right-wing anti-government extremists who are part of the militia movement, which believes that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights. The Oath Keepers accept anyone as members, but what differentiates them from other anti-government extremist groups is their explicit focus on recruiting current and former military, law enforcement and first responder personnel. According to a recent leak of Oath Keeper membership data, approximately 2,700 people signed up with the organization using Florida addresses. While this number does not necessarily indicate present Florida membership or activity in the group, as people may have passed away, moved out of state, or signed up without engaging, the group’s level of recruitment in Florida is still troubling.
The Oath Keepers gained national notoriety for their participation in the January 6 insurrection. Of the Oath Keepers arrested in connection to the insurrection, at least seven are Florida residents, four of whom are facing charges of seditious conspiracy. Of note, Florida resident Kelly Meggs, who is of the individuals charged with seditious conspiracy and the “state lead” for the Florida Oath Keepers, allegedly claimed to have organized an alliance between the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and Three Percenters in the lead up to January 6. Three of the indicted Oath Keepers also allegedly attended two “gunfight-oriented training” events in Leesburg, Florida.
Sovereign Citizen Movement: The sovereign citizen movement is a loosely organized collection of groups and individuals who believe that in the 19th century, a shadowy group of conspirators infiltrated the original, lawful government of the United States and subverted it into an illegitimate, tyrannical government that has been using secret contracts to enslave all Americans. Sovereign citizens claim that people can “divorce” themselves from this illegitimate government, which thereafter has no jurisdiction or authority over them. While their beliefs seem like nonsense to outsiders, sovereign citizens can pose a threat to public officials, law enforcement, and civilians, waging war against their perceived enemies using “paper terrorism” harassment and intimidation tactics and in some cases, resorting to violence.
Over the past year, a small but growing number of QAnon adherents have openly embraced sovereign citizen beliefs and tactics. One of the major drivers of this trend is Florida-based QAnon influencer Ann Vandersteel, who began working with popular sovereign citizen guru Bobby Lawrence to “correct” her citizenship status in July 2021, and in January 2022, she announced on Telegram that she had completed the process and had officially become an “American State National.” Lawrence, along with fellow sovereign citizen guru David Straight, has hosted dozens of seminars across the U.S., where they teach followers their theories and tactics. The pair held two American State National seminars in Florida this year: Lawrence taught a seminar in Destin in July 2022 that was attended by around 140 individuals, and Straight taught a seminar in Fort Myers in May 2022 that was attended by around 125 people.
- June 2022: Hugh Lawrence Machen was arrested after he tried to bring a gun into a VA optometry clinic. When deputies tried to arrest him, Machen reportedly told them that U.S. and Florida law didn’t apply to him and that he was a sovereign citizen. Deputies recovered an “Environmental Deputy Marshall” badge, as well as several handmade law enforcement identification cards, on his person. He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and resisting arrest; he pled no contest in August 2022.
- December 2021 – Joseph Catarineau, a self-proclaimed sovereign citizen, reportedly assaulted a bailiff when he appeared in court on fraud charges. He also allegedly attacked the judge and a prosecutor when they tried to intervene. Catarineau was charged with three counts of assault in relation to the incident.
- November 2021 – James Beeks, a Florida resident facing charges for allegedly participating in the January 6 Capitol insurrection, told a judge that the government had no jurisdiction over him and that he was there by “special divine appearance” during a Nov. 2021 court hearing. Beeks has also reportedly attempted to submit sovereign citizen-style documents to the court.
- November 2020 - Neely Petrie-Blanchard of Kentucky was arrested for the murder of Christopher Hallett, an Ocala-based sovereign citizen who offered bogus court services through a company called “E-Clause.” According to court records, Petrie-Blanchard had become convinced Hallett was involved in a conspiracy to deny her custody of her children. Both Petrie-Blanchard and Hallett had embraced QAnon conspiracy theories, according to media reports.
QAnon is a baseless, wide-reaching “big tent” conspiracy theory popular among a range of right-wing extremists and some high-profile supporters of former president Trump. The movement is scattershot and sprawling, and includes anti-government elements, as well as marked undertones of antisemitism and xenophobia. QAnon is a dangerous conspiracy theory that has inspired violent acts and has eroded trust in democratic institutions.
QAnon theories are based on alleged intelligence provided by an anonymous figure known as “Q,” who QAnon adherents believe is part of a military intelligence operation leaking information to the public about a secret war being waged by former president Donald Trump against the “Deep State,” a cabal of shadowy, Satan-worshipping pedophiles who control world governments and engage in child sex trafficking. QAnon adherents believe that members of the cabal will be brought to justice during “the Storm,” a day of reckoning in which the cabal and its collaborators will be arrested en masse and sent to Guantanamo Bay, where they will face military tribunals and possible execution. The theory has spread widely over the past two years, gaining a significant foothold in the mainstream conservative movement. “Q” re-emerged in June 2022 after 18 months of silence, sparking a renewed sense of hope among adherents that Q’s outlandish predictions will soon come true.
Across the United States, QAnon supporters have run for a handful of elected positions at the local, state, and federal levels. ADL has identified 12 candidates running for Congress in Florida this year who have expressed some level of support for QAnon. Carla Spalding, who is running for Florida’s 25th Congressional District, was the only QAnon-linked candidate to win the Aug. 2022 primary and advance to the November general election. Independent candidate Christine Scott, who is running for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, also qualified for the general election ballot. Four QAnon-linked candidates ran for Congress in Florida in 2020, according to Media Matters. Florida is also home to several popular QAnon figures, including former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and notoriously antisemitic QAnon influencer Robert “GhostEzra” Smart.
- June 2021 - Jamie and Jennifer Buteau of Ocala were charged in connection with the January 6 insurrection. According to a federal complaint, the Buteaus entered the Capitol building shortly before 2:30 p.m. through a broken door in the Senate wing; Jamie Buteau is also accused of throwing a chair at two Capitol police officers. The Buteaus are well-known QAnon supporters and were featured in the HBO documentary, Q: Into the Storm.
- February 2021 - Suzanne Kaye of Boca Raton was arrested for threatening to kill FBI agents in a video she posted on social media. According to a federal complaint, Kaye posted the video after investigators interviewed her about her possible involvement in the January 6 insurrection. Kaye had shared QAnon content on social media, according to media reports.
- November 2020 - Neely Petrie-Blanchard of Kentucky was arrested for the murder of Christopher Hallett, an Ocala-based sovereign citizen who offered bogus court services through a company called “E-Clause.” According to court records, Petrie-Blanchard had become convinced Hallett was involved in a conspiracy to deny her custody of her children. Both Petrie-Blanchard and Hallett had embraced QAnon conspiracy theories, according to media reports.
Black Nationalist Extremism
Black Hebrew Israelites: The Black Hebrew Israelite (BHI) movement is a fringe religious movement that rejects widely accepted definitions of Judaism and asserts that people of color are the true children of Israel. The movement includes both extremist and non-extremist factions. Members of extremist BHI sects promote virulent antisemitism, including asserting that Jews are liars and false worshipers of God, Jews have no right to Israel as a homeland, Jews purposely enslaved Black individuals to steal their identity, and that Jews are imposters or “fake Jews.” Judaism is frequently referred to as the “Synagogue of Satan” by antisemitic BHI followers.
While the headquarters for most of the larger extremist BHI sects are located outside the state, several groups have chapters in Florida. Israel United in Christ (IUIC), the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge (ISUPK), and the Sicarii Hebrew Israelites all have chapters in Florida. Cities with active chapters include Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tallahassee. ISUPK members from across the country gathered in Cocoa Beach, FL in April 2022 for the group’s 53rd Annual Passover gathering.
Thee Light of Zion (LOZ), a smaller extremist BHI sect, is headquartered in Florida in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County. The group also has chapters in Lee County, Miami-Dade County, and the Treasure Coast region. Its members sometimes partner with other BHI groups, including the Sicarii.
BHI chapters’ common activities include street teaching and other public speaking events. They frequently post livestreams of their street and classroom teachings on social media, where they can reach many followers. IUIC’s Florida chapters, for example, have 10K–30K subscribers each, while LOZ’s main YouTube channel has approximately 20K subscribers.
Nation of Islam: The Nation of Islam (NOI), the largest Black nationalist organization in the U.S., maintains a consistent record of antisemitism and bigotry since its founding in the 1930s. Nonetheless, some mainstream figures and groups, including elected officials and celebrities, have publicly supported the NOI, focusing on the group’s community-based efforts while overtly ignoring or minimizing the group’s well-established hate-filled record.
During his 40-year tenure as the NOI’s leader, Louis Farrakhan has built a legacy of divisiveness as one of the most prominent figures promoting antisemitism in America, frequently referring to Jews as the “Synagogue of Satan” and “fake Jews.” Farrakhan has also espoused anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-white bigotry, as well as a range of conspiratorial beliefs. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, NOI leaders have publicly blamed the Jews for the pandemic and peddled vaccine conspiracy theories, instructing their followers not to trust the “vaccine mafia.”
NOI operates numerous local chapters—designated as numbered Muhammad Mosques for chapters with larger memberships or Study Groups for smaller locations—across Florida, including in Fort Lauderdale (Muhammad Mosque No. 82), Jacksonville (Muhammad Mosque No. 66), Miami (Muhammad Mosque No. 29), Orlando (Study Group), Pensacola (Muhammad Mosque No. 98), St. Petersburg (Muhammad Mosque No. 95), Tampa (Muhammad Mosque No. 47), and Winter Haven (Study Group).
The NOI’s Tampa and Jacksonville locations both achieved mosque status in 2021, indicating a recent increase in their membership. The Miami mosque serves as one of the NOI’s Regional Headquarters.
New Black Panther Party for Self Defense: The New Black Panther Party for Self Defense (NBPP) is the largest organized Black militant group in the country. NBPP ideology blends aspects of Black Nationalism, Pan-Africanism, antisemitism, and anti-white bigotry. The NBPP also has ties to the NOI. The NBPP’s divisive positions have been condemned by members of the original Black Panthers.
The group is active in various cities throughout the state, including in Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Tampa. Activities include holding armed demonstrations, leading trainings, and organizing community events. Local leaders and group members sometimes travel outside of Florida to participate in NBPP events in other states. The NBPP’s activities also include working with other Black nationalist groups.
The NBPP has regularly drawn attention for its calls for violence against law enforcement, white people, and others, including in Florida. After the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, FL in 2012, for example, local NBPP representatives offered a $10,000 “bounty” for the capture of Zimmerman “dead or alive.”
Other groups: The Uhuru Movement, also known as the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), is a Florida-based international socialist Black separatist organization. Founded in the 1970s, the Uhuru Movement is affiliated with the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), whose co-founder and chairman is Omali Yeshitela. The Uhuru Movement has ties to antisemitic Black nationalist organizations, including the Nation of Islam (NOI), New Black Panther Party for Self Defense (NBPP) and the Black Hammer Organization.
In July 2022, federal agents conducted a raid at the Uhuru Movement’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida, in connection to an investigation into Russian national Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, who is accused of conspiring to use multiple Black nationalist groups in the U.S. to spread pro-Russia propaganda and interfere in U.S. elections. The Atlanta, GA-based Black Hammer Organization—whose leader, Augustus Cornelius Romain, Jr. (AKA Gazi Kodzo), formerly served as a leader in the Uhuru Movement—was also connected to the alleged pro-Russian conspiracy. Neither Uhuru Movement nor Black Hammer Organization leaders have been charged in the federal case against Ionov.
Recent criminal activity: The most notable recent instance of violence perpetrated by a Black nationalist extremist in Florida came in June 2021, when Othal “O-Zone” Wallace allegedly shot Daytona Beach police officer Jason Raynor, who died from his injuries two months later. An investigation after Wallace’s arrest uncovered multiple connections to Black nationalist groups. Wallace had participated in events organized by the Not Fucking Around Coalition (NFAC), a Georgia-based Black nationalist paramilitary group. In early 2021, Wallace appears to have broken ties with NFAC and founded “Black Nation,” a group that combined the militant style of the NFAC with BHI ideology. Wallace had also participated in events with and received support from members of the NBPP, who continue to lead fundraising efforts for Wallace’s legal defense in 2022.
Othal Wallace during a March 2021 YouTube podcast with the NBPP
In another example of criminal activity in Florida, Larry Greene (AKA Elijah Israel) was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly assaulting two identifiably Jewish men who had just left services at a synagogue in Miami in 2019. Greene allegedly told his victims they should “go back to Israel” and, according to the affidavit, told police that he considered himself to be “a black Israelite and real Jew, not like these fake Jews.”
Domestic Islamist Extremism
Islamist extremism is a highly rigid interpretation and a minority current within Islam which is hostile to other faiths (including other forms of Islam) as well as to secular forms of government. Islamist extremists often declare as infidels, apostates, or hypocrites anyone who does not adhere to their restrictive version of Islam. Islamist extremists believe that governments should be based on their extremely hardline understanding of Sharia law, and often advocate violence to shift society towards this ideal. Islamist extremists additionally tend to hold antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ+ and misogynistic beliefs, and oppose modernity, tolerance and diversity.
Although ADL is not aware of any violent Islamist extremist organization active in Florida, foreign terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda have occasionally made inroads with Florida residents. Jonathan Guerra Blanco, whose case is discussed in more detail below, was an ISIS supporter who translated ISIS propaganda into Spanish in an attempted to make it accessible to Spanish-speakers in Florida. Al Qaeda also has a media center which translates its content into Spanish, though this is more targeted at individuals in Spain and Africa.
- February 2021 - Mohamed Fathy Suliman, 33, a former Gainesville resident and University of Florida student, was charged with providing material support to ISIS. Suliman had attempted to travel to Somalia in 2009 but was denied entry at the border and accused of being a foreign terrorist fighter. In 2014, Suliman allegedly made plans to join ISIS and purchased a one-way ticket to Turkey and tried to illegally enter Syria. He was detained by the Turkish government and extradited to the U.S. in 2021. He also had a Facebook and email accounts via which he distributed ISIS propaganda.
- September 2020 - Jonathan Guerra Blanco, 25, a Cuban-born naturalized U.S. citizen from Miami, Florida, was charged with providing material support to ISIS. Blanco had translated ISIS propaganda into Spanish and produced videos which he intended to use to recruit Spanish-speakers to join the group. Many of the videos called for violence against Spain and attacks against Spanish authorities. Blanco pled guilty to one charge of providing material support on December 22, 2020, and a judge sentenced him to 16 years imprisonment and a lifetime of supervised release.
- May 2020 - Muhammed Momtaz al-Azhari, 23, of Tampa, Florida, was charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Al-Azhari allegedly attempted to illegally obtain a firearm with the intent to commit an attack on behalf of ISIS. FBI officers arrested him just after he took possession of the firearms. He scouted potential targets for his attack, including Honeymoon Island, and rehearsed his plan for the attack and the statement he intended to make during it. Al-Azhari faced prior terrorism charges in Saudi Arabia.
Sunshine State Insurrectionists — Florida & The January 6 Insurrection
According to data compiled by the George Washington University Program on Extremism, of the 855 individuals charged in relation to the January 6 insurrection, 90 hail from the state of Florida—the largest number of any state. COE has found that at least 30 (or 34.4%) of these individuals maintain ties to extremists in the state, including Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters—groups that played significant roles in the insurrection. The remaining individuals were fanatical supporters of former President Trump.
Extremist Groups and Conspiracy Charges
A Florida cell of Oath Keepers gained national notoriety for their participation in the January 6 insurrection, entering the Capitol in a military-style “stack” formation. Four Florida Oath Keepers face charges of seditious conspiracy for their role in the insurrection. Dunnellon resident Kelly Meggs, the “state leader” of the Florida Oath Keepers, is named among three other Florida Oath Keepers in charging documents that include Oath Keepers founder, Stewart Rhodes. In text messages included in the original criminal complaint against Meggs, his wife Connie Meggs and two other Florida Oath Keepers, Meggs claimed to have organized an alliance between the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and Three Percenters in the lead up to January 6. According to a Justice Department court filing, Rhodes allegedly met with then Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio of Miami, who had just been released from custody, in a parking garage on January 5, 2021. This further suggests ties between the groups prior to the insurrection. Tarrio also faces conspiracy charges for his alleged role in inciting the insurrection.
On August 24, 2022, federal authorities charged five members of a militia group that referred to itself as the “B Squad” in connection with their alleged actions during the January 6, 2021, insurrection. The five members all allegedly self-identified as supporters of the Three Percenter movement, and several wore Three Percenter branded gear during the attack on the Capitol. According to prosecutors, the men wore riot gear and carried weapons – including metal batons, pepper spray and knives – when they joined the mob outside the Capitol, and they participated in at least one attempt to force their way through the police line. Four of the individuals face a felony count of civil disorder, while one faces two misdemeanors. The B squad is allegedly led by Jeremy Liggett, a Florida resident who was a candidate in the 2022 Republican primary for the U.S. House. Liggett was not named in the charging documents, but he allegedly organized the group’s trip to Washington, D.C. for the January 6 event.
Antisemitism on The Rise
As noted in the ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, 2021 ranked highest in the number of incidents the American Jewish community experienced since ADL began tracking incidents in 1979, with more than 2,700 acts of assault, vandalism and harassment nationwide. There were 525 reported incidents at Jewish institutions such as synagogues, Jewish community centers and Jewish schools in 2021, an increase of 61% since 2020. At least 484 of the antisemitic incidents in 2020 were perpetrated by known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology. Florida had the fourth-highest number of reported antisemitic incidents in 2021, with 190 antisemitic incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism throughout the state. In 2021, the number of reported incidents increased 50% over 2020 numbers, rising from 127 to 190. Of the 190 incidents tabulated by ADL for the state of Florida, 58 of them were extremist-related, 22 were anti-Israel/anti-Zionism- related, and 41 included a swastika.
In May 2021, against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas conflict, Jews and Jewish institutions in Florida were the targets of harassment and vandalism. With Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine protests occurring almost daily, instigators targeted Jews both at protests and afterwards. From May 11 (the start of the military conflict) to May 31, there were 23 instances of harassment or vandalism against Jews or Jewish institutions in Florida.
The most disturbing case of vandalism that occurred during the Israel-Hamas conflict in Florida was when the Florida Holocaust Museum, located in St. Peterburg, FL, was spray-painted with multiple swastikas and the words, “the Jews are guilty.”
- December 2021 – Fireworks were detonated in a Chabad center’s mailbox.
- November 2021 – Multiple types of Goyim Defense League (GDL) flyers and stickers along with spray-painted vandalism were found throughout Ormond Beach, FL.
- August 2021 – Graffiti that contained swastikas and antisemitic slurs was found spray-painted inside of a business.
- May 2021 – A protestor at a rally in Miami held a sign that read: "Jesus was Palestinian and you killed him too!" This message invokes the age-old antisemitic trope that Jews killed Jesus.
- May 2021 – A Jewish family was walking home from synagogue when they were harassed by a group of individuals in a car who allegedly yelled at them, "Free Palestine," "Fuck the Jews" and "Die Jew."
- August 2020 – A sanitation employee was fired after it was discovered that he had spray-painted swastika graffiti on a septic tank. Other swastika graffiti had been reported in July.
- February 2020 – Swastika graffiti discovered outside government legal buildings.
- January 2020 – A 9/11 memorial was defaced with graffiti that read, "Jews caused 9/11."
Hate In Florida—By The Numbers
In January 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Counterterrorism Center jointly assessed that Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) and Racially/Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVEs) continue to pose a lethal threat to faith-based communities, particularly the Jewish community. A follow-up report issued in March 2021 indicated that “domestic violent extremists who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat.”
While not every group highlighted in the report is officially categorized as a DVE or RMVE group, the prevalence of these groups across the state comes at a time when there are significant numbers of hate crimes perpetrated against minority communities in Florida. Based on federal hate crime data, a wide range of groups have been the targets of hate crimes since 2020. These groups include religious, ethnic and racial minorities as well as gender-based and age-based identity groups. Hate crime data for Florida are voluntarily reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies in Florida. In 2020, 452 of 687 agencies in the state volunteered data. It is important to note that most hate crimes are not committed by extremists.
According to the FBI’s most recent Hate Crime Statistics report, which examines hate crime data from 2020, the most commonly reported bias motivations for hate crimes perpetrated across the state in 2020 were anti-Black (40.4%), anti-gay (male) (15.6%) and anti-Jewish (14.7%). Of the hate crimes committed in Florida in 2020, 58.9% (66) were simple or aggravated assaults, 17.9% (20) were instances of vandalism or the destruction of property and 16.1% (18) were instances of intimidation.
56.1% of the reported religion-based hate crimes in 2020 targeted the Jewish community nationally. In 2020, hate crimes against Jews accounted for 80.0% of the religiously motivated incidents in Florida. Here, the Jewish community has been targeted by particular types of hate crimes. 40.0% of all vandalism and destruction of property hate crimes and 38.9% of all intimidation hate crimes in the state were committed against the Jewish community.
To combat the extremist threat landscape, a whole-of-society approach is necessary. Below are recommendations for combatting extremism and building a safe, inclusive Florida.
- CONDEMN HATRED:
- Elected officials and community leaders must all strongly and consistently condemn antisemitism and extremism, whenever and wherever it occurs. It is vital that elected officials do their part to ensure that extremism is never accepted as mainstream ideology. Condemnation of hate sets the tone that it will not be tolerated and stops its normalization. To that end – officials and community leaders must denounce hate especially when it emanates from a group or political party that they identify with. Denouncing bigotry from an opponent is simple; doing so when it comes from an ally requires courage – and now more than ever, we need courageous leaders.
- PASS AND ENFORCE LEGISLATION TO PROTECT MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES
- Passing legislation such as a comprehensive hate crimes bill (which the ADL-led Florida Hate Crime Coalition has advocated for over the past six legislative sessions) would help to ensure that marginalized communities are protected under state law.
- In addition to the state implementing the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program, Florida should create a state Non-Profit Security Grant Program to provide resources to help secure religious institutions and other community centers that may be targets of identity-motivated violence.
- PROTECT FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS:
- Protecting free and fair elections must be a pillar of our democratic society. Both elected leaders and community members must advocate for election systems that are accessible to all voters and are protected from political violence. In addition, we urge elected leaders to propose and vote affirmatively on legislation that protects voting opportunity, which could include supporting efforts to ensure access to voting and monitoring extremist threats to fair elections.
- DISRUPT HATE AND EXTREMISM THROUGH APPROPRIATE LAW ENFORCEMENT MEASURES:
- Law enforcement must receive training on how to recognize and document hate crimes, antisemitic incidents, and other bias-motivated incidents – training that ADL can provide.
- We also recommend that law enforcement agencies dedicate resources to hate crimes units, as appropriate, so that they have the internal capacity necessary to respond to hate crimes when they do occur. We encourage Florida law enforcement agencies to participate in ADL and the Florida Holocaust Memorial’s course “Law Enforcement and Society,” which helps law enforcement officers and recruits understand the role that law enforcement played in the Holocaust, so that they can recognize the impact of bias and reflect on their vital roles as protectors of the American people.
- Law enforcement and municipalities should report hate crimes that occur within their jurisdictions to the FBI and the Florida Attorney General for inclusion in those agencies’ annual reports. Underreporting of hate crimes in Florida and nationwide is a severe obstacle to tracking, investigating, and prosecuting these crimes; this in turn leads to a lack of accountability for bias-motivated offenses that can intimidate, isolate, and terrorize entire communities.
- PRIORITIZE ANTI-BIAS AND HOLOCAUST EDUCATION
- Students need both an accurate understanding of historical events, such as the Holocaust, as well as purposeful opportunities to learn about and explore bias in order to help them become productive citizens. We urge community leaders, elected officials, and school system administrators to prioritize anti-bias and Holocaust education in schools.
- Through No Place for Hate, BINAH (Building Insights to Navigate Antisemitism and Hate), and Echoes and Reflections (Multimedia Holocaust Education), ADL has resources for educators to empower their students to address antisemitism and bigotry.
In addition to these localized recommendations, national action is required. ADL’s three national policy plans, PROTECT, COMBAT, and REPAIR, provide comprehensive frameworks for combatting domestic extremism, antisemitism, and online hate.