“Your Policies Caused This”: DeSantis Booed At Jacksonville Prayer Vigil


Mourners gathered for a second prayer vigil in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday for the victims of the racially motivated Dollar General shooting, which killed three Black people.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his wife Casey DeSantis were on hand, and when the Governor walked up to the podium to speak, the audience began heckling him and he was met with widespread boos.

One person shouted, “You’re not welcome here,” with another member of the crowd yelling, “Your policies caused this.”

During his tenure as governor of Florida, “DeSantis has loosened the state’s gun laws, and curbed efforts to teach Black history in schools,” in addition to condemning diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Due to these policies, “DeSantis has arguably become Florida’s most prominent face of anti-Black rhetoric. The governor, who’s vying for the Republican presidential nomination, routinely claims that his state is where ‘woke’ — that is, the term denoting Black consciousness — ‘goes to die.’”

Given his widely known reputation, DeSantis was most likely one of the last people that Black Floridians would want to hear speak after a mass shooting, conducted by a white man, who self-admittedly “was motivated by anti-Black hate,” at a store half a mile from a historically Black college, in which all of the victims were Black.

DeSantis did try and continue his speech despite the crowd’s antagonism toward him, commenting on how the state was “looking at identifying funds” to strengthen campus security at Edward Waters University, the historically Black college near the site of the shooting.

Mid-sentence, however, DeSantis was forced to stop talking after the crowd’s cries grew too loud, and Ju’Coby Pittman a Jacksonville councilwoman interjected and spoke to the crowd in an attempt to quell the tension.

Pittman said, “Put parties aside,” adding “A bullet don’t know a party.”

Democratic Congressional Representative Maxwell Frost was not at the vigil, but he agreed with the crowd’s reception of DeSantis, writing on X, “This is the energy needed. I understand that some electeds + pastors want ‘unity’, but folks have to understand that for Gov DeSantis, this is a campaign stop. Don’t let your community be used as a prop. If he wanted to help, he’d do something.”

Representative Angie Nixon, a Democrat whose district includes the Dollar General where the shooting took place, told MSNBC that DeSantis’s platitudes were “hollow statements,” adding, “at the end of the day, the governor has blood on his hands.”

“He has had an all-out attack on the Black community with his ‘anti-woke’ policies, which we know very well was nothing more than a dog whistle to get folks up — and riled up — in the way in which it just happened,” stated Nixon.

DeSantis’ office has not been responding to comment requests, but on Monday the administration did direct “$1 million toward campus security at Edward Waters University and $100,000 to support the families of the three shooting victims.”

On Sunday, the Florida governor said the shooting was “totally unacceptable” and that “we are not going to let people be targeted based on their race.”


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