Florida Legislature OKs bill to curb hate speech on private property

Bill heads to Gov. DeSantis for his signature

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill to make it a hate crime to distribute flyers containing hate speech onto private property, among other things, and sent the bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

The Senate approved HB 269, the Florida House version of the bill, on Wednesday. The bill had already unanimously passed the Florida House.

It’s been one of the few bills this session where all lawmakers seemed to be in lockstep.

It prohibits people from distributing any material onto public property in order to intimidate or threaten people, or harassing people who are wearing anything that identifies their religious or ethnic heritage, and makes those violations hate crimes.

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It also bans projecting images onto buildings or structures without permission.

The bill was filed in response to the growing number of antisemitic incidents in Florida.

That includes projections of antisemitic messages in downtown Orlando on New Year’s Eve and at the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach in February. It also includes distribution of antisemitic flyers in neighborhoods in Daytona Beach, Orlando, Ormond Beach and west Orange County.

Among those who championed the bill was Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who has been combatting antisemitic groups in his county and online over the last few months.

A report from the Anti-Defamation League said Orlando had the third-most antisemitic incidents in a Florida city in 2022.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.