A prayer vigil intended to honor the lives of three Black victims of a racially motivated shooting turned into a moment of tension and criticism as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis faced heckling from attendees. Here’s what happened.
The Lives Lost
Angela Michelle Carr, 52, Anolt Joseph Laguerre Jr., 19, and Jarrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29, lost their lives in a tragic incident that rocked Jacksonville, Florida.
The Racist Incident
The shooter, 21-year-old Ryan Palmeter, armed himself with a handgun and an AR-15 rifle before carrying out the attack, which was fueled by racism and hate.
Manifested by Hatred
Palmeter’s horrifying act was preceded by disturbing manifestations of his hatred, including racist manifestos and swastikas on his weapon.
During a speech at the prayer vigil, Governor DeSantis condemned the violence and expressed the state’s commitment to combating hate and prejudice.
“The fact of the matter is, you know, you had a major league scumbag come from Clay County up here, and what he did, what he did is totally unacceptable in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
Evil Does Not Triumph in Florida
“We are not going to let people be targeted based on their race. We are going to stand up and we are going to do what we need to do to make sure that evil does not triumph in the state of Florida,” he added.
DeSantis Was Heckled
However, as DeSantis spoke, some attendees in the crowd couldn’t contain their frustration and disappointment.
His Policies Caused This
Heckling comments, such as “You’re not welcome here” and “Your policies caused this!” disrupted the atmosphere of the vigil.
Social Media Users Shared Their Thoughts
A clip of the crowd’s reaction circulated on social media, leading to divided reactions among viewers.
Critics of DeSantis condemned his words and demeanor during the speech, finding his initial comment of “thank you for having this” at odds with the gravity of the occasion.
Who Talks Like This?
“He starts – at a vigil – with ‘thank you for having this’?! He truly has no people skills,” one user wrote, while another added, “DeSantis has been loud and consistent with his WAR ON WOKE which includes removing African-American studies as a legitimate field of study.”
These critics pointed out that DeSantis had been known for supporting policies they viewed as insensitive, discriminatory, and racist.
DeSantis Should Be Booed Everywhere
One Twitter user wrote, “Excellent and appropriate response. He should be booed everywhere.”
Another user commented, “I hope Ron DeSantis gets booed everywhere he goes for the rest of his life.”
This Is Not the First Time
DeSantis has previously faced criticism for his stance on guns and his positions on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Erasing Black History
Reuben A. Shelton III, leader of Kappa Alpha Psi, one of the oldest Black fraternities in the country, said, “[His] Efforts to erase Black history by eliminating diversity, equity and inclusion programs and Advanced Placement African American studies courses in Florida schools, is a vivid reminder that our work in the vanguard for social justice in America continues.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Leonard Zhukovsky. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.