Florida police arrest neo-Nazi. They say he violated the state’s new public nuisance law

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Police say that a neo-Nazi and member of an extremist group was arrested Tuesday after hanging swastikas and other anti-Semitic banners on a bridge near Orlando — a violation of Florida’s new public nuisance law — and that they are searching for three more suspects.

The law — signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April — prohibits people intentionally displaying or projecting messages on a property without the written consent of its owner. DeSantis has said it gives law enforcement agencies a new tool to stop perpetrators of anti-Semitic incidents and those who target religious communities.

“We want to thank Governor DeSantis for his support of law enforcement and for the signing of HB 269, giving us the tools to arrest this hate-filled radical,” FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass said Wednesday in a statement.

“Today’s arrest demonstrates Florida’s commitment to protecting residents from attention-seeking extremists,” said Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Dave Kerner.

Jason James Brown, who police say claimed was a member of the “Order of the Black Sun,” an anti-Semitic group, was arrested in Brevard County. The 48-year-old Cape Canaveral man is being charged with a criminal mischief first-degree misdemeanor.

Brown’s arrest affidavit says that an agent of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement observed an online video showing members of the hate group dressed in black or military-style camouflage clothing affixing signs and banners along the Daryl Carter Parkway bridge near Orlando on June 10.

According to the agent, Brown and another person were observed affixing a swastika flag to the bridge. Other individuals installed a flag and a banner in support of white power and other racist messages.

The agent noted that an officer with the Orange County sheriff’s Office, who was at the location on June 10, witnessed Brown and the others affixing the hate-filled signs onto the bridge’s fence so eastbound Interstate 4 drivers could see them.

“The displaying of these signs and banners onto the fence was knowingly and intentionally done without the written consent of Orange County,” the FDLE agent said.

Brown was arrested Tuesday evening in his Cape Canaveral home and taken to a Brevard County jail, according to his arrest report. FDLE declined to release the names of the three other wanted persons citing an “active criminal intelligence information” exemption.

Anti-Semitic groups, including the one Brown is allegedly a member of, waved swastika flags, performed Hitler salutes and shouted hateful messages against Jewish people in outside of Walt Disney World Resort and in another area of Central Florida on Sept. 2, according to the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that monitors anti-Semitic incidents. A week earlier, a white gunman with a swastika-emblazoned assault-style rifle killed three Black people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville.

Nationally, reported hate crime incidents increased 11.6% from 8,120 in 2020 to 9,065 in 2021, according to an FBI report released earlier this year. Around 65% of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ race, ethnicity or ancestry bias, the FBI said.

“Antisemites and extremists routinely use banners on highway overpasses to intimidate people, seek publicity, and spread their message of hate,” Sarah Emmons, Florida regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Miami Herald. “We are pleased to see local law enforcement taking action against those who would create an unlawful public nuisance and use this dangerous tactic to spread extremist messages.”