Visions of a grim reaper walking the sands of Panhandle beaches became a common sight during the pandemic. Now, he’s visiting Jacksonville Beach.
Attorney Daniel Uhlfelder will bring his “Grim Reaper Beach Tour” to the east coast Friday. The dark figure already visited shores in Destin, Pensacola, Miami, Santa Rosa Beach, Panama City Beach and Miramar Beach. The visits were featured this Spring on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
The macabre vision arrived at Florida beaches with distinct purpose — to raise awareness for the spreading pandemic. Uhlfelder in March sued Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida officials to close beaches and issue a stay-at-home order. He’s afraid weak policy focused on short-term economic gain threatens the long-term vitality of beach economies.
“President [Donald] Trump and Governor DeSantis are literally forcing people to take a risk with their lives to get money to feed their family, pay bills and rent,” Uhlfelder said.
As he visits the first major Florida beach to reopen after a COVID-19 closure, Uhlfelder expands his rhetoric to attack DeSantis’ pandemic leadership all around.
“Our economy is largely based on tourism and thousands of local workers and small businesses don’t know where the next pay-check is coming from,” Uhlfelder said.
The Santa Rosa Beach attorney gained national prominence through a lawsuit against former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee over public access to beaches in Walton County.
He quickly leveraged that fame to form a federal super PAC.
His appearances draped in black and wielding a sickle as apathetic beach lovers took to the sands before and after surges in infections earned Uhlfelder further notoriety.
While a holiday weekend visit to one of Florida’s most popular beach destinations will surely cast Uhlfelder in some fresh stock art shots, he’s pointedly turning attention to a variety of coronavirus-related topics.
“The online enrollment for unemployment has been an abject failure, the CARES Act grants have failed to materialize and it seems a sweetheart deal with big banks and businesses has been done at the expense of the small businesses who are the backbone of our economy,” he said.
“Employees who have been making unemployment insurance payments for just such these moments have been abandoned and left with no support, they’ve seen their benefits stopped and small businesses are being told by their banks: ‘Sorry, the money has already run out.’”