BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A weekend stunt by nine individuals who hung banners with racist messages from a highway overpass in Brevard County appears to have been the work of a loose-knit national antisemitic organization called the Goyim Defense League, according to hate group monitors.
The Space Coast event, which led to cries of outrage from residents and local politicians on both sides of the political divide, was the latest display of antisemitism in Brevard County, News 6 partner Florida Today reports. It also took place under the eyes of law enforcement officers who made no arrests but encouraged the group to take their signs down and go home after several hours on the overpass near Port St. John on I-95.
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While no group took responsibility for the act, the Anti-Defamation League, which keeps tabs on anti-Jewish extremists, said the GDL was behind the banner incident. The ADL is an international non-governmental organization whose mission is to fight antisemitism and other forms of hate and racism online and off.
Goyim is the Hebrew and Yiddish word used for gentiles, and according to the ADL, the Goyim Defense League is a loose network of people “connected by their virulent antisemitism” and white supremacist views.
While originally comprised of just two people, the group has managed to use its online video platform — called GoyimTV — to attract followers across the country to their cause.
According to the ADL, the banner display last weekend was part of a December 18 challenge issued by GDL leader Jon Minadeo to followers to participate in racist actions over the weekend. In a video calling for racists displays, Minadeo promised whomever made the news would get “100 bucks in the GoyimTV shop.” In his video, Minadeo told his followers that participation in these events was “going to feel good.”
According to the ADL, Florida is among the most active states for the GDL along with California, Colorado and New York. Minadeo, a Californian, founded the group and was able to jumpstart the video platform with help from Dominic Di Giorgio of Port St. Lucie, only a short drive from the Space Coast.
ADL monitors say the group was also responsible for some of the antisemitic leaflets left last year around the county, which saw a worrying increase in anti-Jewish acts over the last several years. Between 2016 and 2021, the Anti-Defamation League’s records show 73 antisemitic incidents in Brevard, including flyers, graffiti, banners and other attempts to harass the local Jewish community.
The ADL traced some of those acts to the Goyim Defense League.
Also active on the Space Coast has been the New Jersey European Heritage Association, an alt-right group, which was reported passing out similar flyers claiming that “Antifa is a Jewish Militia” in multiple Brevard County cities, including Cocoa Beach, Port Canaveral, Melbourne and Palm Bay. Many of the flyers made detestable claims about the coronavirus, the media and gender and sexuality issues being a part of a Jewish conspiracy.
The group of nine people on Sunday gathered on the Ranch Road overpass to hang their homemade banners spouting racist racists rants, including calling for the expulsion of Jewish people in 2022 and using the N-word.
Residents who monitored the action, said the group was on the overpass for several hours being monitored by law enforcement before Florida Highway Patrol troopers eventually told them that affixing banners to the overpass was against the law.
The group then took down the banners and left the area. Neither FHP troopers nor Brevard County Sheriff’s Office deputies cited the group or took their IDs.
“We strongly condemn this display of antisemitism and bigotry, an appalling and outright act of hate. In 2020, hate crimes rose to the highest level in twelve years — as the forces of hate and extremism rise, we must stand together in denouncing acts meant to inflict fear and intimidate communities, and be united in taking on bias and bigotry in all forms,” said ADL Florida Regional Director Sarah Emmons.
State Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) has demanded answers from law enforcement officials about the timeline of events and why nobody was arrested for breaking the law about hanging signs off overpasses.