TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried called on Gov. Ron DeSantis Sunday to denounce “neo-Nazis” who demonstrated during a conservative students event.
Fried made the call to action during a press conference at the Tampa Convention Center to formally condemn a group of people who bore white supremacist symbols outside the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit Saturday.
The commissioner and gubernatorial candidate called on elected officials from across all political parties to condemn the demonstration, particularly the governor.
“I am asking you, Ron DeSantis, to denounce the Nazis that were here, here to celebrate you speech inside this convention Center,” Fried said. “They were holding your pictures yesterday.”
Photos showed the individuals holding Nazi flags, a swastika poster, and anti-Semitic imagery outside the Tampa Convention Center. They were also seen flying the Florida flag and another flag bearing the slogan “DeSantis Country” — along with a poster with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ face.
Video showed the group use a racial slur at a Black protestor as well.
The demonstrations happened the same day former President Donald Trump, who has a Jewish daughter and son-in-law, was to speak at Turning Point USA.
The demonstration drew criticism from Fried, who is Jewish, who tweeted that white supremacists are not welcome in Florida.
“Let my be clear: when I’m Governor, you will not be welcome here,” she wrote. “You will not terrorize us. And we will never back down from condemning hate and white supremacy.”
In response to the demonstration, Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation warning its members to not engage with the protestors to avoid bringing them attention.
“We have been in touch with the Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI,” the organization said. “They have committed to extra patrols of Jewish institutions across Tampa.”
The Florida Holocaust Museum also issued its own statement calling the white supremacists’ actions “an indefensible act of pure hatred.”
“This isn’t about politics or religion. It’s about humanity,” Chairman Mike Igel said. “The Florida Holocaust Museum calls upon everyone, Jew and non-Jew, regardless of political affiliation, to condemn this blatant antisemitism in the strongest possible terms.”
Sunday morning, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Florida, issued a statement condemning the actions as well, calling them a neo-Nazi demonstration.
“The reprehensible anti-Semitic hate and neo-Nazi demonstrations on display this weekend have no place anywhere in our state,” he wrote. “Over the last year, Florida has seen a rise in anti-Semitic hate — anti-Semitic flyers left at hundreds of Florida homes, neo-nazi demonstrations in Orlando, and now neo-nazi flags waving outside a prominent Republican convention. To date there’s been little to no response or condemnation from Governor Ron DeSantis. It’s reprehensible.”
Meanwhile, Turning Point USA, which represents conservative student activists, also condemned the group’s actions and said they had nothing to do with it. According to its statement, several students with the event even confronted the demonstrators themselves.
“We have no idea who they are or why they’re here,” the statement said. “They have nothing to to with TPUSA, our event, or our students. After some students initially confronted these individuals, they made a mature decision and vacated the space. Once that happened, they left.”
The city of Tampa is no stranger to anti-Semitic actions. In June, anti-Semitic flyers were distributed to homes in Hyde Park, frightening residents in the area.