Ron DeSantis booed at vigil as hundreds mourn racist killings in Jacksonville

Florida governor Ron DeSantis speaks into a microphone.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis was booed into silence by the crowd at a vigil for the victims of a racist mass shooting in Jacksonville.

Two Black men and a Black woman were killed on Saturday (26 August) after a 21-year-old white man opened fire at a Dollar General store, in a racially-motivated shooting.

The victims have been identified as Angela Michelle Carr, 52, Anolt Joseph ‘AJ’ Laguerre Jr, 19, and Jarrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29.

The shooter, who was identified as Ryan Christopher Palmeter, reportedly bought two weapons legally before he decorated them with swastikas and used them in the shooting. He shot and killed himself at the scene. Police say he left behind written messages detailing his hatred of Black people.

During the vigil on Sunday (27 August), DeSantis, who has loosened gun laws in Florida during his time as governor, was heckled by attendees who told him to “do your job”.

The Republican 2024 presidential hopeful was then forced to step back from the podium due to the negative reaction from the approximately 200 vigil attendees, prompting Jacksonville city councilperson Ju’Coby Pittman to urge the crowd to listen.

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“It ain’t about parties today,” Pittman said. “A bullet don’t know a party.”

Later, DeSantis posted a clip of him showing support for the families impacted by the shooting during a separate speech inside a government building.

“Perpetrating violence of this kind is unacceptable,” DeSantis said. “Targeting people due to their race has no place in the state of Florida.”

DeSantis has spent much of his tenure as Florida governor waging a war on what he calls “wokeness” by scrapping work diversity programs and removing critical race theory from education curriculums while claiming that some Black people benefited from slavery.

The anti-LGBTQ+ Republican governor has also relaxed gun laws in the state, making it harder to track gun purchases and therefore to investigate gun-related crimes, as well as signing legislation in April that allows people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

In a statement after the shooting, Reverend Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King and Jonathan Greenblatt collectively condemned the “abhorrent” racism behind the shooting.

“While thousands of people from all walks of life – Black, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, white, Latino, Sikh, Hindu, LGBTQ+, young and old – marched today in our nation’s capitol for the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, a white man in Jacksonville, Florida, motivated by a sheer desire to kill Black people, opened fire at a dollar store.

“This hate is abhorrent, detestable, beyond humanity, and must be condemned by all,” the statement continued. “We all need to come together in solidarity in standing up to the evils of white supremacy and intolerance of all forms.

“Such bigotry should have no place in our society.”

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.