JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Gov. Ron DeSantis is weighing in on recent antisemitic messages broadcast on TIAA Bank Field and a Confederate flag flown over the stadium this past Sunday, calling those behind the acts “jabronis.”
But the governor also criticized media outlets for covering the incidents, accusing them of “manufacturing division.”
The two controversial displays occurred within one month of each other.
First, a neo-Nazi group projected “Kanye was right about the Jews” on the stadium during the Georgia-Florida game and then a group called Save Southern Heritage flew a Confederate flag and the words “Put Monuments Back” ahead of the Jaguars vs. Ravens game.
“I think it’s totally wrong to try to tar an entire city or an entire region as somehow, they’re engaged in hate. That’s just not true,” said DeSantis.
DeSantis addressed the incidents Tuesday, dismissing those that carried out the displays, but also turning his ire on coverage of the incidents.
“I’m concerned when people in the media take some jabroni that nobody cares about and will try to elevate them and make them some type of celebrity,” said DeSantis.
“This is simple deflection,” said Ben Frazier, head of Jacksonville’s Northside Coalition.
Frazier argued the governor avoided addressing the issue at the heart of the local debate: the city’s two remaining Confederate monuments.
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“He should be open, honest and straightforward about what his position is. There’s a need for us to end strife and division and his statements do not lend anything towards that,” said Frazier.
City leaders have been mostly silent since the Confederate flag incident Sunday.
Action News Jax reached out to all 19 city councilmembers Monday, but had still only heard back from four as of Tuesday.
They include Council Vice President Ron Salem (R-Group 2 At-Large), Councilmember Randy DeFoor (R-District 14), Councilmember Reggie Gaffney Jr. (D-District 7) and Councilmember Matt Carlucci (R-Group 4 At-Large).
Councilmember Carlucci was the only one to directly call for the monuments’ removal.
“There’s 13 councilmembers that have voted to keep these monuments or to talk about it more. I think the time for talk is over,” said Carlucci.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry also weighed in on the flag incident Sunday.
“There’s no place for hate of any kind in our city,” said Curry in a tweet.
Curry allocated half a million dollars in the city budget to remove the monuments, but putting the money to work is ultimately in the hands of the city council.