Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody addresses a news conference in South Florida on Nov. 2, 2023, in Boynton Beach. Source: Screenshot/Florida Channel
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody appeared in South Florida Thursday to reassure the public that the state’s law enforcement establishment is on the guard against any political or religious violence that might spill over from the Israel-Hamas war.
“We know that we have Floridians that are scared,” Moody, flanked by high-ranking state police and uniformed local police officials, said during a news conference in Boynton Beach in Palm Beach County.
“We know that there have been situations throughout the United States that are placing people on edge. They are fearful for their safety. I have personally met with members of the Jewish community and heard about experiences on college campuses and with the community, and it is certainly disturbing to hear that this is happening in the United States and that people do not feel safe,” Moody said.
“We’re doing everything that we can to assure them and to use the law and tools that the Florida Legislature has given us to do so.”
Moody said “it is no coincidence” that she staged her event in South Florida, with its large Jewish population.
The atmosphere has rekindled religious convictions within the Jewish community, said Rabbi Mark Rosenberg of Dade County, who serves as chaplain to the FHP, Miami-Dade Police Department, and North Miami Beach Police Department.
“We saw more people coming out to synagogue. More people that want to perform missions and do good deeds and take on something upon themselves. So, we’re happy that the scare factor did not work and we’re thankful to the law enforcement that provided that comfort,” he said at Moody’s news conference.
Moody spent the morning in a security briefing with top law enforcement officials, including Mark Glass, head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Dave Kerner, who runs the Florida Department Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which includes the Florida Highway Patrol. The attorney general has ordered the FHP to guard Jewish day schools and synagogues.
Law enforcement coordination
Moody said that the state’s Fusion Center, which coordinates anti-terrorism and violent crime investigations between local, state, and federal agencies, is monitoring the situation. She urged people who see anything suspicious to call (855) FLA-SAFE or (855)352-7233, or file an anonymous report by dialing **TIPS. She also recommended calling local agencies through the 911 system.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida issued a public notice on Oct. 19 saying that it was on the watch for hate crimes and urging people to report concerns to (800) CALL-FBI or (800) 225-5324) or through tips.fbi.gov.
“We do not have any type of known terrorist attack is imminent in the United States,” Glass said.
But he noted that students at the historically Black Edward Waters College in Jacksonville interrupted a potential mass shooting on their campus by alerting police to a suspicious man. That frustrated a campus assault, but the man later shot three Black people to death in late August in a nearby Dollar General store.
“Those students are heroes on that campus. I’ve toured that campus. I saw where he was going to be. And what he was, that is the community that is people. They were seeing something and saying something. We need that,” Glass said.
Glass also pointed to the recent arrest of Deep Alpesh Kumar Patel, 21, of Sarasota, for allegedly leaving an Oct. 21 voice mail with the World Jewish Congress in New York threatening genocide.
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