‘It’s reprehensible:’ Volusia sheriff reacts to antisemitic messages on Daytona International Speedway

Officials believe one group is responsible for all projections

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A hate group used a portable projector to display antisemitic messages on the side of the Daytona International Speedway until deputies managed to block the projection, law enforcement officials said.

The offensive messages were part of a series of antisemitic demonstrations targeting parts of Volusia County this weekend.

“It’s disgusting. It’s reprehensible,” said Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood. “What you have is a bunch of cowardly scumbags that walk around in groups. Get them one-on-one, they’ll cry for their mother.”

Ormond Beach police are seeking the public’s help in identifying people who were handing out antisemitic propaganda over the weekend.

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The same group believed responsible for the offensive projection at the speedway also held up antisemitic signs on a pedestrian overpass.

The sheriff said there were other reported incidents of hateful speech in the city of Port Orange.

“These people are not part of our community,” said Chitwood. “These people want nothing to do with watching our community grow and support one another. It’s all about destroying something and hating something.”

Chitwood expressed his support for a recently filed bill that would increase the penalties for hate crimes in Florida.

That proposed legislation would also make it illegal to project hateful images on to a building without permission and outlaw the distribution of antisemitic flyers.

Chitwood suspects the bill will likely be challenged in court if it passes. But the sheriff said something needs to be done to deter hateful speech from inspiring violence.

“When you have somebody who’s got mental issues, and they decide they believe this rhetoric, and then they’re going to take action based on it. And that’s when people get killed, when we see these mass shootings,” said Chitwood.

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About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades.