JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Some Florida legislators are speaking out after the deadly mass shooting at a Colorado Springs nightclub.
Their message: Florida's policies singling out the LGBTQ community can be dangerous. Some legislators and those in the LGBTQ community are blaming political rhetoric for generating intolerance and even violence.
Over the weekend in Jacksonville, people marching in the Pride parade across Riverside said they had to drown out some protesters, but in many ways protesters are getting louder.
"Hate kills" are the words of Florida State Senator Shevrin Jones, who tweeted about the Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub shooting in part, "anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, and the normalizing of it has caused this."
This year hundreds of bills and policies were adopted across the country, including Florida, that impact the LGBTQ community from school rooms to doctors' offices.
"A lot of the policies that came out of Tallahassee last year have created an environment that is ripe for potential violence," said State Representative Angie Nixon. "We see Nazis that are now running around, putting up really antisimetic verbiage outside of Florida-Georgia, the Florida-Georgia game."
Nixon and some in the LGBTQ community say growing intolerance is no coincidence. A report by the Human Rights Campaign and Center for Countering Digital Hate finds homophobic and transphobic remarks shot up more than 400 percent on Twitter after Florida's Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed the Don't Say Gay bill by critics, was passed.
"I've been on a couple of different local stations lately promoting different things that's going on in the city," said Wade Davis, a community activist. "Read the comments with that, the hateful-filled comments that are so terrible."
Davis also goes by Karrissa at times. He's a drag queen and community activist who, when he emceed the Pride parade last weekend, says he had to have music be turned up loud enough to drown out protesters.
"I think before recent politicians were in place, you kept your crazy hidden on the porch, so to speak," Davis said. "You didn't sit there and be so bold about it, but now people are openly hateful and tyrants."
A question that's come up is how what Jones claims could be the case when the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando happened before the 2022 legislation focused on LGBTQ people. First Coast News brought the question to Nixon.
"We didn't have, again, folks going around with Nazi swastikas hanging out on Emerson, holding up signs and all this just hateful rhetoric," Nixon said. "And then also, we just have this stuff coming out of the mouths of elected officials."
First Coast News made multiple attempts to reach multiple GOP lawmakers as well as the governor and Jacksonville mayor for comment since those in the story are Democrats. No one responded with a comment. Local leaders did denounce the antisemitism in Jacksonville when it happened.