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In May, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for Florida, warning that Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration was engaging in “an all-out attack on Black Americans” by championing loose gun laws and attempting to deny the existence of systemic racism. At the time, the Associated Press reports, DeSantis, soon to announce his presidential campaign, scoffed — even after a year in which extremist groups amped up displays of hate in the state. Three months later, in the wake of the deadly racist shooting at a Dollar General in Jacksonville, his tone appears little changed.

At a vigil Sunday for those killed in the Jacksonville attack, DeSantis did not explicitly describe the shooter — a white man with swastikas painted on his rifle — as racist, instead calling him a “major-league scumbag.” Mother Jones reports that attendees responded to DeSantis — who has condemned the shooting and “targeting people due to their race” — with remarks like “Your policies caused this!” and “These deaths are on your hands!” 

This week, NPR reported that DeSantis’s agenda is much in line with that of far-right extremists, contributing to the growth of extremism in Florida. “They’re all aimed at creating fear among the targeted groups,” Cassie Miller, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, told NPR. “This is all part of a broader political project.”

What to Know Today

ICYMI: Supporters of AR-15s, often used in mass shootings and racist attacks, say they’re important for self-defense. An analysis of Gun Violence Archive data suggests otherwise. [The Trace

The Daily Tar Heel, the University of North Carolina’s student newspaper, published an evocative cover depicting text messages sent and received by students while the campus was on lockdown during a shooting on Monday. [The Daily Tar Heel

Baltimore Police supervisors instructed officers not to act on warnings before a mass shooting at a block party in July, even as emergency calls from residents grew more frequent and more desperate in the hours before the shooting, according to a new review of the department’s response. The report found that the reluctance to intervene was driven by indifference, rather than low staffing levels. [The Baltimore Banner

Doris Ervin had been calling the Jersey City Medical Center’s mental health crisis team for weeks in hopes of getting help for nephew, Andrew Washington, who she said had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Now, she wishes she’d never dialed their number: After her last call, police in tactical gear responded, and shot and killed Washington at his home. [Gothamist]

Washington, D.C., agreed to pay a $5.1 million settlement in a class-action suit with gun owners who were arrested under laws that have since been found unconstitutional. The agreement follows several major legal battles, starting with the 2008 Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, that resulted in judges striking down D.C. gun restrictions. [The Washington Post

San Francisco’s police union claims that a local bakery chain has a “bigoted” policy against serving uniformed officers. The business, however, says its policy is against allowing firearms inside its restaurants, not a blanket refusal to serve police. [Los Angeles Times

Students in Seattle, activated by the gun violence crisis and the social isolation necessitated by the pandemic, have been organizing and leading protests around demands for mental health support for young people. In May, the city’s Department of Education and Early Learning responded with a pilot program to provide tailored mental health services to participating schools — and the department recently announced that the program is expanding. [South Seattle Emerald

The man accused of killing five people during a multi-day mass shooting in Philadelphia earlier this summer was found incompetent to stand trial, and will be sent to a state-run psychiatric facility for mental health treatment while his criminal case is put on indefinite hold. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]


He Tracked Terrorists for the FBI. Now His Job Is to Stop School Shooters and Teen Suicides: Even in small-town Ohio, keeping students safe requires constant vigilance — and special attention to the risks posed by firearms. (March 2020)