A group of protesters was seen outside Florida’s Walt Disney World theme park Saturday, brandishing banners with Nazi images and messages in support of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis, who is running for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination, has been embroiled in a heated dispute with the Walt Disney Company for more than a year after the entertainment conglomerate spoke out against the Children’s Rights Act. Parents in Education Florida, better known as the “No Say Gay” bill. In response, DeSantis took aim at the Disney World theme park near Orlando, pushing legislation dissolving the special zone of self-governance around the park that gave him to Disney a wide autonomy in the management of the land.
Disney has always responded to DeSantis’ moves with its own legal maneuvering, culminating in a recently filed lawsuit against the Florida state government alleging that it has been the unlawful target of political actions in retaliation for the company’s exercise of its right to freedom of expression. The situation has led many observers to argue that the conflict has damaged DeSantis’ credentials as a political leader. for his partthe governor dismissed the suit as “political” and without merit.
“The days of putting a company on a pedestal without accountability are over in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
On Saturday, numerous images and videos began circulating on social media showing a small crowd of protesters near the large sign indicating the entrance to Disney World. Several protesters carried banners and flags with Nazi images, including swastikas. Others carried signs and banners with DeSantis’s face and messages supporting his 2024 presidential campaign.
news week reached out to DeSantis’ office via email for comment.
Anna V. Eskamani, a Democratic Florida state representative whose district is located in the Orlando metropolitan area, was one of the first to share a video of the assembled crowd.
“Nazis outside Walt Disney World right now, absolutely disgusting,” Eskamani wrote.
“DeSantis’s Florida. Where the Nazis come to Disney,” added Daniel Uhlfelder, a Democratic attorney who ran in the race for Florida attorney general last year, in his own tweet.
“Two dozen white supremacists are outside the main entrance of Disney World in Orlando right now, marching with signs featuring Governor DeSantis’s face, swastikas, the word ne and homophobic slurs,” activist and organizer Shannon Watts tweeted. “This is the Republican Party of 2023.”
Saturday’s incident was remarkably similar to a group of protesters who gathered near the same Disney World sign in May 2022, at the start of the governor’s dispute with the company. Protesters at that gathering also carried signs with swastikas and others reading “DeSantis Country.” The governor, prior to that incident, had refused to denounce the Nazi flags at another meeting in Orlando.