Florida’s Governor and Surgeon General came to Jacksonville to talk COVID-19, but ended up talking about the killing of three Black people by a White gunman with swastikas drawn on his AR-15.
However, the state leaders had more criticism for the man asking about how state laws led to an avoidable racist mass murder than they did for the killer himself.
In Jacksonville, Ron DeSantis and Joseph Ladapo each responded to a questioner who led off his comments by saying he didn’t “agree” with all the Governor’s policies, specifically regarding the gun laws that allow “weapons to be put in the street” brandished by “immature and hateful people.”
“You have allowed people to hunt people like me in broad daylight,” the questioner said.
“Well, listen, excuse me, I’m not going to let you accuse me of committing criminal activity. I am not going to take that,” DeSantis said, before suggesting that the killer should not have had a gun to start with because of mental issues.
“That guy was Baker Acted,” DeSantis said. “He should have been ruled ineligible, but they didn’t involuntarily commit him.”
The back-and-forth continued while the speaker was being escorted out of the brew pub.
“You don’t get to come here and blame me for some madman,” DeSantis said. “That is not appropriate and I’m not going to accept it.”
After the event wrapped, Ladapo had his say, contending that the speaker had mental problems that overshadowed his message, while extolling the Governor’s “wonderful heart” and saying DeSantis was only blamed because he was “not the same color as these people.”
“What happened here was tragic and, you know, unfortunately the guy, the gentleman was obviously … I shouldn’t call him a gentleman. He was obviously crazy. Right? He was completely disconnected and he was insane, he was insane,” the state’s lead doctor said, seemingly referring to the shooter.
Ladapo said “there’s politics with trying to connect that,” adding that he believes that’s “just totally crazy as the Governor was saying,” and that DeSantis is a “good man.”
“My wife and I would never have left our state of California to come to the state if we didn’t, if he wasn’t a good man,” Ladapo said.
The Surgeon General called it “terrible that people take advantage of the fact that he’s a different color from the poor victims of that tragedy to try and tie him into something.”
“It’s immoral and unfortunately it’s reflective of what we’ve been seeing for, you know, for many years, but certainly during the pandemic where people hide reality and they spin it and they try and make you buy what they’re trying to sell you. And it’s not true. It’s a total lie, and they try and take advantage of the Governor just because he’s not the same color as these people,” Ladapo said.
Ladapo added that DeSantis “has a wonderful heart” and said “it’s terrible that they do that and it’s terrible that they get to get away with it so often just because he’s not the same color as the people who were harmed.”
“That’s the truth,” he concluded. “That’s the truth.”
The Governor came to Jacksonville for a vigil last month after the racist murder. He was jeered by some members of the crowd, before City Council member Ju’Coby Pittman urged the crowd to quiet down. DeSantis vowed to offer financial help to boost the security of Edward Waters College, where the “scumbag” gunman tried to go before he went to the store.
Pittman, a Democrat, has taken criticism since. She has contended the Governor was “not invited to speak” and has condemned “armchair generals, extreme right-wing politicians who created policies for racists and gun-toting White supremacists to thrive.”