Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) knew he wasn’t in Florida anymore when a crowd of activists protested his appearance Sunday at a conference in Manhattan hosted by a conservative organization.
The Jewish Leadership Conference was organized by the Tikvah Fund, and held at the Chelsea Piers recreational center in the heart of one of the most vibrant LGBTQ communities in the city.
The timing was particularly insensitive, given DeSantis’ recent crackdown on the LGBTQ community in his state and during Pride month. It was also the 6-year anniversary of the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub, a bustling gay establishment in Orlando, that killed 49 people.
Activists waved signs reading: “Florida man go home” and “Don’t Say DeSantis” — a dig at the “Don’t Say Gay” bill he signed into law earlier this year. The law forbids classroom discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation for some age groups in Florida schools.
“The bottom line is Chelsea Piers is providing a venue to propagate hate toward the LGBTQ community, and that is unacceptable on many levels, including that it is Pride [month] and that it is in Chelsea, the heart of the community,” said Democratic state Sen. Brad Hoylman, who represents the area.
The Tikvah Fund declined to discuss the controversy and Chelsea Piers said it won’t police the content of events at the facility.
A spokesperson in DeSantis’ office wouldn’t comment on the protests or timing, but emphasized the governor’s support for religious freedom and Israel. DeSantis was reportedly the close-out speaker at the conference and touted his “Florida model” as something good for religion.