If new legislation (HB269 Antisemitism Hate Crime Bill) introduced by Delray Beach Republican Mike Caruso passes, our message, our activism, even our flag will become crimes, punishable by up to five years in prison. The move comes in response to “antisemitic messages” being projected onto the walls of buildings, banners being hung from interstate overpasses, and flyers being distributed throughout the state. This is the same Caruso who proposed a bill to criminalize Holocaust questioning and criticism of the Israeli state.

It seems to be the lasers that set them off, or that are being used to justify this. Caruso explains, “First, it establishes that the projection of anything onto any public or private property without the written permission from the owner of the property or a permit from a city…it’s a public building…without that, it’s a first-degree misdemeanor. Now if they project something of a hateful nature, such as a swastika, something that is offensive from an ethnic or religious perspective, then it’s elevated to a hate crime and therefore a third-degree felony.”

Given that we’re talking about how it might be a felony soon, we won’t shout anyone out right now, but we will say that we saw the lasers, and it was awesome. We were sending screenshots to each other saying how cool it was. We’ve seen two groups using them, love them both. And they wouldn’t be writing laws if this stuff wasn’t working. If everything we do became a felony tomorrow because something you did got too much attention, we’d adapt and thank you for bringing us to the next phase of the struggle, because some things will and may need to happen. If it wasn’t that, it’d be something else. It started with online censorship, but that’s what got us outside, and led to us organizing in real life. If you haven’t noticed, they shut things down when they start to work, but the thing is, we get better every time, and one step closer.

According to Caruso, the following hate crimes would be considered a third-degree felony, if the bill were to become law: 

  • Any person distributing flyers involving materials that have religious or ethnic animus and are mass distributed will be committing a 3rd-degree felony from now on.
  • Any person stalking, harassing or interfering with someone based on their religious or ethnic heritage will now be committing a 3rd-degree felony.
  • Any person who willfully and maliciously defaces, injures or damages a religious cemetery, memorial, religious school or community or public or private property with a religious or ethic animus will now be committing a 3rd-degree felony.
  • Any person who projects an image of religious or ethnic animus, indoors or outdoors, without permission, written permission from the owner of the property, will be committing a 3rd-degree felony.
  • Any person who willfully interrupts or disrupts, disturbs any religious school or religious service with a pretense of ethnic or religious animus will be committing a 3rd-degree felony.

Director of Community Engagement for the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee commented, “Data shows that anti-Jewish rhetoric, demonstrations, vandalism, and assaults are at an all-time high throughout the country and especially in Florida.” He whined a bit more, “The unchecked spread of antisemitism is not just a threat to the safety of American Jews, but to all people enjoying the privilege of living in a pluralistic democracy. HB269 will elicit a critically important conversation about the dangerous spread of conspiracy theories that traffic age-old antisemitic tropes in the 21st century.”

Jeffrey Berger, President of the Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation said, “The holocaust didn’t start with the concentration camps and the chambers… The holocaust started with hate speech. It started with the stigmatizing and vilifying and delegitimizing the Jews and other ethnic groups.” Never heard that one before.

Palm Beach County Mayor Gregg Weiss added, “We want these people to know that we are working on laws to hold them accountable… The people who did these things are not from Palm Beach County. They came here to spread hate but they have united the county to see that these incidents stop.”

Our message to that kook, YOU are not from Palm Beach County. You came here from California to retire with your ugly wife and make a new hobby of telling people what to do in their own home. If they weren’t from Palm Beach, they were visiting on our invite. People around here don’t even know who you are, but they know what’s up with Jews. No one is uniting to protect pedophiles and devil worshippers. Stop gaslighting us.

West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Michael Hoffman of the Jewish Federation, Palm Beach Gardens Vice Mayor Rachelle Litt, Lonnie Wilk of the Anti-Defamation League, State Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach and Felicia Goldstein (aide to Rep. Lois Frankel) were also present at the closed-door meeting with Weiss and Caruso in which the plan for preventing people from talking about the crimes of Jews was discussed.

The full text of the bill as it was filed is available here: