Florida law enforcement officials arrested a Cape Canaveral man who led a Nazi demonstration in Orlando in June.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) announced Jason Brown, 48, was arrested for violating a new Florida law forbidding the display of images on structures without permission.
FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass praised Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing the law and “giving us the tools to arrest this hate-filled radical.”
“This activity will not be tolerated in the greatest state in the country, Florida,” Glass said.
Officials said Brown has claimed membership in the Order of the Black Sun, which the Anti-Defamation League identifies as a neo-Nazi group based primarily in Florida.
The demonstration in Orlando proved particularly newsworthy because protesters waved flags supporting DeSantis’ presidential ambitions alongside swastikas and imagery of the Third Reich. Images shared online also showed racial and homophobic slurs.
DeSantis has notably faced political criticism for failing to publicly condemn the demonstrations.
“I’d like to thank the FDLE for arresting one of the neo-Nazis involved in Florida’s recent string of vile anti-semitic demonstrations,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried. “However, one arrest on a glorified vandalism charge doesn’t solve the core problem. Ron’s refusal to loudly and forcefully denounce the neo-Nazis that support him has created an environment where anti-semitism can flourish.
“Ron can point to this arrest as proof of action — and I’m sure he will — but we all know it’s not enough. For what seems like the thousandth time, we call on Ron to do the bare minimum: vocally condemn neo-Nazism and all forms of hate speech.”
Law enforcement, though, stressed that laws supported by the Governor led to the ability to arrest demonstrators.
While the First Amendment protects much of the actual speech, law enforcement said protesters violated state law by hanging swastikas and other antisemitic banners along the Daryl Carter Parkway Bridge, which crosses over Interstate 4 in Orlando.
“Florida is a law-and-order state. Today’s arrest demonstrates Florida’s commitment to protecting residents from attention-seeking extremists,” said Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Dave Kerner.
The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) assisted in the investigation. Kerner said he and FHP Col. Gary Howze were thankful DeSantis signed the law used to charge Brown and for “working to rid this state of intimidation, vitriol and hate directed towards people of faith, and for empowering law enforcement to do the same.”
Democrats who have drawn attention to the demonstrations praised the arrests.
“Thank you to everyone who has sent us videos and images of the Nazis — it does help,” Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, posted on X. “We are trying to ID as many as we can and pursue all options for accountability.”
The FDLE announced three outstanding warrants were issued for three others engaged in the protest but who live outside of Florida.