Recent Hate Crimes in Orlando and Boca Raton
January 22, 2023 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, News & Announcements Social Share
Only months into the new year, and Florida has had several instances of hate crimes in different cities. The two most recent incidents took place in Orlando and in Boca Raton.
This article will cover the details of the two cases, along with information on hate crimes in Florida.
- A neighborhood in East Boca Raton found anti-Semitic flyers outside of their homes near North Dixie Highway and U.S. Route 1. According to the report, several residents witnessed three men in masks throwing the flyers out of a white U-Haul truck. The flyers were wrapped inside a zip lock bag filled with what looked like animal pellets. On the flyer it read an offensive comment to the Jewish community.
“I’m appalled and if I were Jewish, I would be frightened too,” said FAU Jewish Studies professor Kristen Lindbeck.
Boca Raton Police are requesting anyone with information pertaining to the flyers contact Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS.
- Two local LGBTQ+ bars in Orlando had their windows smashed on Wednesday night. District Dive and Southern Craft are the two targeted bars. Video surveillance was released, which shows a man in a hoodie walking up to Southern Craft and throwing items at multiple windows. The attacks took place between 3:30am and 4am, when there were no other witnesses around. District Dive owners called the incident a “suspected hate crime.”
Orlando Police Department (OPD) stated that this was the beginning of an investigation into the hate crimes. “The Orlando Police Department does not tolerate criminal behavior of any kind,” said OPD Chief Eric Smith. “Whoever committed this brazen vandalism against our city’s LGBTQ+ businesses will be held accountable.”
OPD is requesting anyone with information pertaining to the hate crime to contact their office at (321) 235-5300 or Crimeline at (800) 423-8477.
Hate Crimes in Florida
The Florida law for hate crimes is codified under Statute Section 775.085. Under the law, any misdemeanor or felony crime that is considered prejudicial against a specific group of people may be classified under the hate crime statute.
For example, a second-degree misdemeanor is reclassified to a first-degree misdemeanor. A third-degree felony would be reclassified as a second-degree felony, and so on.
As it stands, the hate crime enhancement covers prejudice over the following:
- Homelessness Status
- Sexual Orientation
- National Origin
The two recent incidents listed above targeted religion and sexuality—both of which are covered under the hate crimes statute. That means the offenders in both cases are likely to receive enhanced penalties due to the nature of the crime. However, if the case involved targeting a person based on a factor not included in the current law—for example, someone explicitly targeting women—it may not result in enhancements.
Fight to Expand Hate Crime Postponed
We’ve recently covered the potential bills SB 308 and HB 111 to expand the reclassification of Florida’s hate crime Statute. However, despite the very clear need for extending the current law to also cover gender, both bills died in March 2022.
With the continuation of hate crimes on the rise in Florida, it is now more important than ever to protect all Florida citizens from possible hate crimes. To find out more about the need to expand Florida’s hate crime statute, read our blog post here.
ADL’s Report on Extremism and Antisemitism in Florida
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) published a report titled, “Hate in the Sunshine State” highlighting the worrying trend of hate crimes in Florida. Between 2020-2022, ADL found that there was a significant increase in hate crimes across the nation and within the state of Florida.
The following is a list of the top findings from ADL’s report:
- Between January 2020-August 2022, ADL recorded over 400 instances of white supremacist propaganda distributed across Florida. 95% of incidents were targeted towards Jewish institutions or included anti-Semitic language.
- 80% of religious hate crimes were towards the Jewish community, and anti-Semitic hate crimes have risen by 300% since 2012.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
If you or someone you love has been accused of a hate crime, we highly advise speaking with a legal representative regarding your case. A regular criminal charge can be enhanced if there is evidence of the crime displaying directed hate towards a specific group of people.
Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have years of experience representing Florida residents accused of criminal offenses. Our team will work tirelessly to build a strong defense for your case. For a free consultation, contact us today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.
Written by Karissa Key