(The Center Square) – Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is calling on college and university police chiefs and campus law enforcement leaders to enforce the law and protect Jewish students in Florida.
Moody sent a memo Wednesday to 21 college and university police chiefs statewide highlighting the statutes that prohibit and assign penalties for antisemitic hate crimes. She did so in the wake of Jewish students reporting feeling threatened by pro-Hamas groups on college campuses.
“Florida colleges and universities must act with a sense of urgency to protect Jewish students from unlawful acts motivated by antisemitism and hatred on campus. I reminded university police chiefs of state laws that protect against hate crimes and prohibit the support of terrorist organizations like Hamas – instructing them to make arrests when appropriate,” she said. “Israel and the Jewish community are being violently attacked by Hamas and now feel threatened here in the United States. We must ensure the safety of Jewish students attending colleges and universities in our state.”
In her memo, she states, “Please be reminded that the State of Florida has a zero-tolerance policy for hate crimes, including those based on religious and ethnic heritage, and this extends to our college campuses. Florida stands with Israel and those affected by Hamas’s horrific crimes, and we cannot stand by and let those who wish to terrorize, harass, assault, or threaten our Jewish communities do so with impunity.”
She issued the statement after Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year signed a bill into law providing greater mechanisms to law enforcement to combat anti-Semitism.
After Gov. DeSantis declared an emergency, he called up the National Guard and State Guard and directed Florida’s Division of Emergency Management to execute a “Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and other response, recovery, and mitigation plans necessary to cope with the emergency, including any logistical, rescue, or evacuation operations.”
DeSantis also was the first and only governor to bring home nearly 300 Americans who were stranded in Israel.
Florida sent two cargo planes to Israel with 85 pallets of donated supplies identified as critically needed by hospitals in Israel.
DeSantis has condemned pro-Hamas rallies in Florida where protestors chanted “free Palestine,” and holding signs saying Israel was guilty of “ethnic cleansing, genocide and apartheid.”
The governor and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, have called for the cancellation of visas of anyone in the U.S. expressing support for Hamas.
After pro-Hamas rallies occurred in Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale, DeSantis said, “The rallies … are abhorrent. Hamas is a terrorist group that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and commits atrocities to further that end. We are proud of the relationship between Florida and Israel and remember well the support we received from the IDF following the Surfside tower collapse. Florida stands with Israel as it faces one of its greatest challenges.”
DeSantis called on the Biden Administration to follow “existing laws by cancelling the visas & immediately removing foreign nationals who support Hamas. Any foreign national marching on our streets calling for ‘intifada’ or celebrating the slaughter of Israeli babies needs to go.”
The Florida statutes Moody highlights include Section 1000.05, which states that religion is a protected class and students and employees in Florida’s K-20 public education system cannot be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. The statute requires public K-20 educational institutions to treat religious discrimination motivated by antisemitism in the same way they would racial discrimination.”