Joe Henderson: A year after the insurrection, have we learned anything at all?
Capitol riot footage shows a surprising level of coordination. Image via CNN.

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Florida remains a stronghold for hate groups and has one of the highest totals of people arrested after the riot.

With the first anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol upon us, it’s worth remembering that Florida was a key player in the violence. Our state is one of the leaders in insurrection-related arrests.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 73 people from our state face charges related to the riot. One of them, Robert Scott Palmer of Largo, was sentenced to more than five years in prison last month after pleading guilty to resisting arrest and assaulting officers with a deadly weapon.

That’s the longest prison sentence so far among those convicted in the attack.

But that’s not all. Our Disney-loving, family-friendly, get-away-from-it-all state harbors the second most hate groups in the country.

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracked 68 such groups within our state, second only to California’s 74. Members of those groups aren’t organizing pickleball games when they get together.

That’s all by way of saying that the kind of violence we saw a year ago will probably happen again, except this time closer to home. Our polarized politics almost guarantees that.

Recently, a storyline has emerged about how these activists are focused now on local elections, such as school boards. Already in Florida, we’ve had multiple reports of school board members facing harassment, threats and bullying.

It won’t be long until we see some of those people running for and winning seats on those boards.

It’s important to remember that those who participated in the insurrection believed they were doing their patriotic duty to overturn a stolen election. You can’t reason with people like that.

I used to chuckle at those who would spin outrageous stories about conspiracies that seemed to come straight from the Twilight Zone. However, there’s nothing funny about any of that now because those folks found others willing to believe as they do.

They have leaders, a clear mission and — perhaps most frightening — they believe in the deepest core of their being that they are right.

If presented news that conflicts with their beliefs, they mock it and dismiss it because of something they saw on their Facebook group. Those who disagree are wrong.

Not just wrong, but dead wrong.

They see themselves as the only “true Americans” (the rest of us are fake or, worse, subversive). And they believe that the end justifies the means.

They also have enablers in high places, people like U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who hours after the insurrection said, “Some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not (Donald) Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”

That’s a ruse, but it doesn’t matter. A Reuters/Ipsos poll months after the riot showed 55% of Republicans believe violent left-wing protestors infiltrated the protest and provoked the attack to make Trump look bad. And as we know, Florida is one of the former President’s strongholds.

So, here we are, a year later. Workers repaired the damage and swept up the broken glass at the Capitol. Those charged in the insurrection face their day in court. We’d like to believe everyone learned lessons from the riot, but we also know better.

We remain divided as ever.

Will it ever change?

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


10 comments

  • Alex

    January 5, 2022 at 8:28 pm

    We learned Republicans can’t be trusted to uphold America’s core principles.

    • Impeach Biden

      January 5, 2022 at 8:54 pm

      And nothing happens to the Dems that fire bombed the Federal Courthouse in Portland, OR last summer. Even Ted Wheeler (mayor D) was there with his people. Bomb away you Democrats.

    • Florence Bradley

      January 5, 2022 at 10:12 pm

      What? It’s the democrats who can’t hold up America’s core principles. Mandates is an example. They want a socialist USA. The Republicans want America to remain free and comply with the Constitution!

    • Paula

      January 8, 2022 at 5:01 pm

      There was no ‘insurrection.’ The only death that day was a female Air Force veteran who was shot in cold blood. The narratives put forth by leftist thugs is easily seen through. There are thousands of hours of actual footage which chronicle the events of that day, and bring way more questions than answers. As expected, much of the evidence is being held under lock and key by a complicit and directly involved speaker of the House. As with everything these leftist thugs do, it’s always obfuscate, lie, hide and get talking points squared away with their leftist thug media comrades. I can’t help thinking that they’ve fenced themselves off from the public because they know darn well that the truth is coming out, and the anger – toward THEM- for their part in the coup of 3 Nov 2020 will be heard ‘round the world. The absolute insanity of what they’re a part of is eclipsed only by the idiots who blindly nod and follow them, and by the knowledge that they are part and parcel of a color revolution. Congrats pelosi and company. You have effectively turned America into your desired 3rd world chit hole country, and become filthy rich in the process while breaking it off in hard working Americans’ arses. You better believe we will NEVER forget, and we WILL hold every one of you accountable. 81 million votes, ehh? I’ve never seen such a level of fear and resistance to merely responding to questions of legitimacy. Dirty corrupt lying traitors- sincerely believe they will all get a traitors justice, whether in this life or certainly the one beyond. Wake up and do some research, we are ALL paying for this.

      • mike

        January 9, 2022 at 7:14 am

        Paula, God-Morning!
        GREAT what you say..But our Treasonous Satanic Criminals in our Gov. Just IGNORE us, and Now They are trying to shut us up..LOL calling us Haters?
        Even the BayPines VA is run by Communists
        Trust me There are More of us than you know
        USMC..out in 73″

    • Mike

      January 9, 2022 at 7:06 am

      Aex, Are you kidding, Our so called gov. elected / entrusted Servants of the People , seem to Commit treason and Backstab the Taxpayer on a daily basis…They Just IGNORE any American, that is a Patriot…LMAO..see what it says at the top of the Page?..Quote..” Florida remains a stronghold for hate groups and has one of the highest totals of people arrested after the riot.”…The Moron That wrote That is Either a Communist..or just a MORON for them!
      When I see a Gov. official Committing TREASON..I Dont Hate them..I just want them To be sent before God , It is God our Father’s job to Eternally Judge them, HOWEVER I feel it is our responcibility TO ARRANGE THE MEETING

    • Mike

      January 9, 2022 at 7:35 am

      Alex, I no Longer Believe In all these fancy name tags we have..”Democrat..republican..independant..Liberals Conservatives..The list goes on…TODAY..There is Only 2 people in our Country, AND ONE DISEASE. Their are TRAITORS..with their Useful Morons, and Us..”PATRIOTS “!
      The DISEASE??…ALL The Radical Islam and ILLEGAL INVADERS in our country..PERIOD…and in a NUTSHELL!!
      Julian Assange was right…98% Of the DC clown Circus is Corrupt

  • ScienceBLVR

    January 5, 2022 at 9:07 pm

    I still don’t think it’s a Republican vs Democrat issue..I am proud to say I was raised by Republicans and the one still alive, is not crazy, a nationalist or a Trumper. You can read all the research and speculation about the genesis of this crazed blind adherence to obvious bullshit.
    And yeah, people who identify as Republican are certainly more heavily represented in the down the rabbit hole group. But truthfully, I still hope there are enough sane folks out there to keep the crazies at bay. The people spoke, Biden won, Trump and his agenda were rejected. And I know some Republicans helped make that happen.

  • Richard Keefe

    January 6, 2022 at 9:57 am

    Southern Poverty Law Center “hate group” figures are dubious. First off, there’s no legal definition for “hate group,” so what exactly is the company designating?

    Of the 68 alleged “groups” designated by the SPLC for Florida, 22 are Black groups, although the SPLC stopped calling them Black last year. They are now listed under the catch-all category of “General Hate” to hide their numbers.

    Another 16 are websites, something the SPLC swears it does not count, except that it does. Another 14 are listed only as “statewide,” meaning that the company provides no known location for them, not even a city or town, that a journalist or donor could use to verify the claims. It’s not like anyone in the Media is going to ask to see any proof.

    The last dozen consist of storefront churches and other one-off entities that no one would ever hear of if not for the SPLC’s free publicity.

    SPLC “hate group” numbers are for fundraising, not fact finding.

  • Mike

    January 9, 2022 at 7:21 am

    JOE HENDERSON, YOU are NO AMERICAN..YOUR A DISGRACE TO THIS COUNTRY !! Who Is Paying you??
    TO PUBLISH SUCH ANTI-AMERICAN TRASH ?
    USMC..out in 73″

Comments are closed.


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