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Jacksonville police: Antisemitic displays after Georgia-Florida game protected by First Amendment

A message reading 'Kanye is right about the Jews' was projected on TIAA Bank Field after the Georgia/Florida game. Jacksonville police say no crimes were committed.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After a string of antisemitic incidents in Jacksonville, culminating in a disturbing incident at TIAA Bank Field during the city's biggest weekend, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office distributed a press release, confirming it is aware of the issue.

Photos and videos of the words: "Kanye was right about the Jews", projected onto the back of a scoreboard at the stadium during the Georgia/Florida rivalry game, have garnered national attention.

The message to tweets that 'Ye' (the rapper formerly known as Kanye West) wrote this month, including: "I'm a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I'm going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE." Ye also wrote that Jews have "toyed with (him) and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes (their) agenda." 

Officer T.N. Dash with the Public Information Office wrote in the press release JSO has been notified of antisemitic social media posts and displays "in and around" Jacksonville.

The full response reads:

"The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has been made aware of antisemitic posts and displays in and around the City of Jacksonville. We have been looking into these actions and will continue to work with our partner agencies regarding these reports of antisemitic messages. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office has not identified any crimes having been committed; the comments displayed do not include any type of threat and are protected by the First Amendment. We will continue to monitor any reports of this nature to determine if they rise to level of a criminal nature." 

Sheriff Pat Ivey, who rarely addresses the public, has not spoken out himself. The press release from JSO did not condemn antisemitic behavior. Locals on social media have been asking for a response for Ivey, and many are disappointed in the response from JSO.  

"That’s pathetic, it’s saying that they prefer to wait until a synagogue has been attacked. Does he not know that promoting divisive hate leads to violence?" said user Joann Du on Twitter.

Twitter user @patimaguire wrote: "You don’t think these are threatening messages? You won’t do anything about this unless and until someone is assaulted or killed?"

Many posts shared the sentiment that this response means law enforcement will not act until a violent act is committed.

The Jacksonville division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation posted Monday urged locals to report hate crimes, though it did not mention antisemitism or this specific incident.

Previous incidents in the city include banners with Swastika flags and the words "Jews did 911" hung on the overpass over I-95 on September 11, flyers distributed throughout Jacksonville neighborhoods containing antisemitic language, and an incident as recent as Friday, where a group of men posed with their hands raised in the Nazi salute at the overpass over I-10 near Chafee Road. 

The men on the overpass held a sign that said "End Jewish Supremacy in America." 

Credit: Courtesy of FCN viewers
These signs were displayed over the I-10 overpass, with these men giving what appears to be the Nazi salute.

Local and state officials, including members of the Jacksonville City Council, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Florida Congressman Charlie Crist (who is running for governor on the Democratic ticket), have spoken out condemning antisemitism in response to Saturday's incident. Governor Ron DeSantis has not responded to multiple requests for comment by phone and email.  

The University of Florida and the University of Georgia also released a joint statement, which can be read below:

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