Gov Ron DeSantis’ team has been accused of threatening to call the police on supporters of former President Donald Trump who were demonstrating outside of a book signing event at a Leesburg, Florida mall on Tuesday afternoon.
A small group of Trump supporters gathered in the mall parking lot with Trump signs and flags, but were told to disperse in a video recorded and posted to Twitter by far right activist Lara Loomer.
“They told me to say anybody wearing Trump has to go right now,” a uniformed security officer is heard saying in the video. Later in the recording, the officer says he is going to call the Leesburg Police Department.
Mr DeSantis was at the event to promote his new book, which is entitled The Courage to Be Free. The Florida governor is widely expected to announce a run for president in the coming months, which would pit him against Mr Trump in the contest for the Republican nomination.
Mr Trump has escalated his attacks on Mr DeSantis in recent days, including on Tuesday when he noted that Mr DeSantis supported cutting Social Security and Medicare when he was a congressman and telling Sebastian Gorka that he’d be unable to win a general election campaign.
Mr DeSantis has not yet declared his 2024 intentions, but releasing a new book is seen as a standard step for politicians interested in running for president.
On Tuesday, the rising tensions between Trump supporters and Mr DeSantis’ camp came into full view in the mall parking lot. In another video, the security official apparently relying orders from Mr DeSantis’ team tells the pro-Trump demonstrators that they are on “private property” and have to leave.
“You’re acting like the far left,” the security official, who at one point identifies himself as a Trump supporter, says of his fellow Trump supporters in the video. “You’re acting the same way as the far left.”
The officer then walks away looking at his cell phone.
Ms Loomer, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in both 2020 and 2022, was at the center of the demonstration. She has previously been banned from multiple social media networks for espousing hate and promoting a range of conspiracy theories and has identified as an Islamphobe.
She is not, it would appear, a fan of Mr DeSantis.
“Gov DeSantis likes to pretend like he’s a governor in favor of free speech. He talks a big talk. But really... he allows for people to have the cops called on them for simply supporting President Trump.”
The clash could be a harbinger of things to come in the Republican primary. “and the battle begins,” Cleveland-based journalist Mike Shea tweeted in response to the first video.
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