A group of Nazis holding flags bearing the swastika hate symbol and chanting “white power” marched freely through the streets of Florida on Saturday without any apparent police presence.
The so-called “Red Shirts March” came one week after a white supremacist deliberately targeted Black people in a racist mass shooting in Jacksonville and stood in stark contrast to the type of law enforcement treatment that has been routinely lent to nonviolent racial justice protests.
The Nazi march took place in Orlando and was populated by members of the Blood Tribe and Goyim Defense League, two organizations recognized by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as hate groups.
“Blood Tribe promotes hardline white supremacist views and openly directs its vitriol at Jews, ‘non-whites’ and the LGBTQ+ community,” ADL writes on its website.
“The Goyim Defense League is a loose network of individuals connected by their virulent antisemitism” that peddles “antisemitic myths and conspiracy theories in hopes of turning Americans against Jewish people,” ADL also said.
It appeared that the march must have secured a permit in order to publicly demonstrate, prompting the question of why there was no visible police presence as self-proclaimed hate groups sought to raise awareness of their causes in a part of the state where statistics show tens of thousands of Jewish people call home. Census data shows that Black people also account for more than 23% of Orlando’s population.
It was in that context that there didn’t appear to be any reports of the police during the hate march this weekend.
The lack of law enforcement was reminiscent in some ways of the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021, when – despite officials being aware of plans – a protest led by openly violent extremists with racist views was allowed to proceed. We all know how that turned out.
Similarly, in the summer of 2017, Nazis were allowed to march freely in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists spread hate in an event that included one racist assault of a Black man and the death of an innocent white woman.
Knowing that history along with reports that surfaced in the days before the Nazi march indicating that such an event would take place, it’s unfathomable why more police were not on the scene as the so-called rally was held.
A nearly half-hour-long YouTube video claims “Police respond as Neo-Nazi “Blood Tribe” shows up in Orlando,” but the footage didn’t include any law enforcement.
Conversely, it seemed as though there was not a single Black Lives Matter protest that took place anywhere in the country without a noticeable police presence hovering nearby, ready to brutalize protesters at a moment’s notice.
The Nazis gathered in Florida just about two months after assembling three white supremacist groups held three separate rallies in the Orlando area. In those instances, the ADL did not report a police presence there, either.
Florida’s ties to white supremacy shouldn’t be any secret by now.
Aside from being governed by a man with an openly anti-Black agenda and schools moving to erase Black history curriculum, the Jacksonville shooting was only last week when gunman Ryan Palmeter shot and killed three Black people in a Dollar General store minutes after having a similar plot foiled on the campus of Edward Waters University, a historically Black college.
In May, the NAACP issued a travel advisory warning Black people about living in and traveling to the state of Florida in direct response to anti-Black policies pushed by state lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon,” NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson said in the advisory. “He should know that democracy will prevail because its defenders are prepared to stand up and fight. We’re not backing down, and we encourage our allies to join us in the battle for the soul of our nation.”
One month later, a white woman killed a Black mother of four in Ocala, which is about 80 miles northwest of Orlando. In that instance, Susan Lorincz, 58, allegedly called Black children racial slurs before fatally shooting their mother, Ajike “AJ” Owens, 35. Lorincz was charged with manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault, but not a hate crime.
This is Florida.