Florida sheriff blasts organisation of ‘cowardly scumbags’ behind string of antisemitic propaganda

A Florida sheriff made his disdain for neo-Nazis in his community very clear during a press conference after a hate group distributed and displayed extremist propaganda in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood shared his unfiltered thoughts on the incident with the media during a press conference on Monday.

"These scumbags came to the wrong county ... We are not going to tolerate this," he said. "This is not about free speech. This is about violence."

Mr Chitwood attributed the incident to the Goyim Defense League (GDL), claiming that the group was leaving antisemitic flyers at residents' homes and hanging up banners on pedestrian bridges during the Daytona 500, according to The Daily Beast. The banners included messages such as "Henry Ford was right about the Jews," and "Hitler was right."

The group also held a demonstration outside in South Orlando, during which they allegedly harassed drivers and pedestrians.

The sheriff claimed the group's leader was Jon Minadeo, noting that Mr Minadeo had to move from California after his grandmother's restaurant was nearly shuttered when protesters targeted it in response to his bigotry.

Mr Chitwood did not see the group's actions as genuine free speech expression and said he did not “see anything where these people can say this is First Amendment [protected speech]. This is nothing but pure, pure, pure evil.”

He then laid out the arrest records for more than a dozen of the group's members.

“Let’s take a look at these cowardly scumbags,” he said, before highlighting their various violations.

The sheriff added that members have been accused of stalking, aggravated assault, murder, making terror threats, threatening public officials, vandalism, soliciting sex from a minor, and defacing a memorial for the Pulse nightclub shooting victims.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood discusses a neo-Nazi group distributing anti-semitic propaganda in Florida (screengrab/Volusia County Sheriff’s Office)
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood discusses a neo-Nazi group distributing anti-semitic propaganda in Florida (screengrab/Volusia County Sheriff’s Office)

Mr Chitwood then dared the GDL to "put a bullet in the back of my head” before openly challenging — and insulting — the group.

“That's my message to you: go for it,” he said. “You want to try to get into my computer and plant child porn in there with a group of people that have an IQ of 12? Go for it. I challenge you to go for it. You want to put surveillance on me 24 hours [a day]? Go for it. And the best of all: you’re going to dox me and make me unelectable? Go for it. You came to the wrong county. I stand with my Jewish friends and I'm honored to be on your hit list. It's an honor to be sought after by a bunch of punk thugs like you.”

He said he was worried that groups like the GDL will inspire mass shooters.

“I don’t think they’ve got the guts to pull the trigger themselves, but they know there’s somebody out there that will do their bidding,” he said.

In a tweet, Mr Chitwood called the group "scumbag white supremacists" and said he will "use every legal measure in my power to crush these antisemitic, racist cowards. I hope they keep their cameras rolling and get it all on video."

"We’re going to send a message that Volusia County doesn’t tolerate hate," he said.

The GLD has since responded by posting a photo of the sheriff wearing a green bra at a breast cancer fundraiser event in an attempt to humiliate the law enforcement officer.

"These racist, bigoted, anonymous losers really think they’re hurting my feelings with a photo from an event where we raised thousands for breast cancer research," he said in response to the post. "We already know you aren’t that smart - that’s why you became bigots."