Lawmakers add $45M to boost security at Jewish facilities, organizations at ‘high risk for violent attack’
Antisemitism rears its ugly head in Sarasota — again. Image via @HollyBullardFL.

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The vote followed emotional testimony about 'so much hate.'

A House committee added $10 million to a $35 million bill that will bolster security for the Jewish community — and add resources for organizations under an elevated risk of attack, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The approval of the legislation (HB 7-C) followed testimony about threats and harassment the Jewish community has endured. They’ve been seeing them with increased frequency since the outbreak of violence that began in Israel with a surprise Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

“We live in the scariest time in the history of most Jews who live in Florida today,” said Brevard County Republican Rep. Randy Fine.

The bill now heads to the full House floor.

A Senate committee unanimously approved the same legislation (SB 6-C) after a Holocaust survivor recollected watching Nazis gun down his mother and two sisters.

Amendments were offered that give more flexibility to award grants to places such as Edward Waters University, an HBCU. There, in August, a gunman was repelled by a security guard before he went on a racist shooting spree that killed three at a Dollar General store.

“I want to applaud you for this great amendment,” said Democratic Rep. Bruce Antone of Orlando.

It comes on top of $9 million in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget that boosted safety, including $5 million for security upgrades at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg and $4 million to hire full-time guards to protect Jewish day schools.

Republican Rep. Michelle Salzman said her husband hasn’t been able to sleep since the outbreak in Israel that was reminiscent of ancient violence against Jewish people called pogroms. The oldest temple in Florida, in her district, was vandalized four times with bricks thrown in the window and spray paint on the walls.

She got emotional as she described pleading with her husband to turn off the news.

“We hear you and this isn’t near enough,” she said. “There’s so much hate. It’s so much hate. I just pray for our nation. And I pray for the people in Florida.”

Fine closed on his bill with praise for Republican House Speaker Paul Renner. If more people were like him, there wouldn’t be votes like this needed.

“Hopefully there will come a day not too long in the future where we don’t need any more or any of this stuff,” Fine said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].

One comment

  • My Take

    November 6, 2023 at 10:34 pm

    reminiscent of ancient violence against Jewish people called pogroms.
    On into the early 1940s in parts of eastern Europe. And still called pogroms.

Comments are closed.


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