Florida bill seeks to enhance penalties for antisemitic acts

Bill would also designate certain acts a hate crime

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers are announcing a bill Thursday that aims to make certain antisemitic acts a hate crime.

Florida Rep. Mike Caruso filed House Bill 269, an anti-hate crime bill, which would also increase penalties for hate crimes to a felony. Caruso spoke alongside state Reps. Randy Fine and Vicky Lopez at the Florida Capitol.

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During the news conference, Caruso said the bill would make the following a third-degree felony: flyer distributions of antisemitic material; stalking or harassing based on religious or ethnic heritages; damaging a religious cemetery, a memorial, religious school or community/public/private property; projecting an image of antisemitic messages without permission of a property owner.

“Today, we are called to stand for the 672,000 Jews that live in Florida. If we don’t do something now, then soon we just may have 1933 Nazi Germany here all over again, and I will not stand here and do nothing. I will not be complacent and I will not sit around for with that attitude,” he said.

Florida Rep. Randy Fine said he is fairly optimistic for the prospect of this piece of legislation, detailing the next steps in the process.

“I’m the only Jewish Republican in the Florida Legislature so I take a personal interest in these bills,” he added. “The next step, the bill will be referenced to multiple committees, and it will move through the process to get it to the House floor, (a) companion bill will be filed in the Senate and the same thing will happen over there.”

Caruso said in a tweet this week the bill is in response to recent acts of antisemitism in Florida.


On New Year’s Eve, hateful words targeting the Jewish community showed up on the side of a downtown Orlando building, displaying the words “vax the Jews.”

A week later, neighbors in west Orange County said flyers filled with antisemitic statements showed up in their front yards and driveways.

Pictures of the flyers shared with News 6 show the hateful rhetoric and disinformation regarding the Jewish people, blaming them for the slave trade and COVID-19 pandemic.

And a post on social media showed antisemitic graffiti in the bathroom of an Orange County high school earlier this month.

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.