Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying his damnedest to win the award for the most fascist leader in the U.S., this time calling on fellow Floridians to join the state’s long-disbanded version of a second-string National Guard—a move critics (reasonably) fear could be used to enforce right-wing extremist goals without any real oversight.
DeSantis’ office announced Tuesday the search for 400 people and one part-time director to join the newly revived Florida State Guard (FLSG), according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
“If you love the state of Florida, have a desire to help your community, and have skills beneficial to protect the state from a disaster, we encourage you to apply to join the FLSG. Skilled Floridians with emergency response, law enforcement, or military training are encouraged to apply,” reads a statement from DeSantis’ office.
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This state-funded organization was authorized in 1941 as a paramilitary group originally called the Florida Defense Force. The guards served under the command of the governor and were there to fill in for the state’s National Guard, who were fighting the Nazis overseas. The group was disbanded in 1947 after the end of World War II, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
Elie Mystal is on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast today
DeSantis insists the guard will be helping out in state “emergencies” such as hurricanes. But as Robert Mayer of Boynton Beach pointed out in a letter to the editor: What if DeSantis’ version of an emergency includes “controlling voter turnout or people protesting the non-vaccinated?” Mayer’s concerns are valid, in light of a GOP that doesn’t bother following the rules. “What we don’t need more of is right-wing, gun-toting crazies in the streets, even if they are sanctioned by a governor desperate to prove how tough he is.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried called out DeSantis as an “authoritarian dictator,” and his Gestapo-like state guard as “alarming” and “scary.”
“Can't believe I have to say this, but Florida doesn't need a paramilitary force that only answers to @RonDeSantisFL. Millions of Floridians know what it's like to live under regimes like this—and came to our state to escape them. This must be stopped,” Fried tweeted.
Democratic Florida state Sen. Annette Taddeo called DeSantis’ FLSG a “vigilante militia” last year when the idea was first floated. Taddeo is currently running for governor in the state.
DeSantis has allocated $10 million for the force, Bloomberg reports, but the state budget is still awaiting final approval.
According to the FLSG website, the director position comes with a $400- to $500-per-day stipend, and whoever is hired must have a “strong background in military operations and culture” in order to lead guard members.
Guard members must be between the ages of 18 and 60. “Ideal candidates will have demonstrated experience in military style operations, emergency management, leadership and problem solving,” says the memo.
Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, also running for governor in Florida, called the FLSG DeSantis’ “handpicked secret police.”
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