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Ron DeSantis Campaign Staff, Supporters Allegedly Assault LGBTQ+ Activists

Ron DeSantis Campaign Staff, Supporters Allegedly Assault LGBTQ+ Activists

A rainbow flag and Ron DeSantis

Not until they were escorted out did the Florida governor acknowlege their presence.

Staff and attendees allegedly physically attacked protesters holding a rainbow flag during a recent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis presidential campaign event in South Carolina.

DeSantis has pushed and passed numerous anti-LGBTQ+ laws and policies, including Florida's "don't say gay" bill, book bans, restrictions on gender-affirming care, and limiting drag performances. He himself has issued a dictum against “wokeness.”

At the Philip T. Glennon Community Center in Tega Cay on Monday, DeSantis, who is considered Donald Trump’s biggest GOP challenger in 2024, made a campaign stop on Monday.

Activists Claire Jost and Will Sander, both 19 and from around Charlotte, N.C., were among some 800 attendees. In an interview with Newsweek, the two said they were standing up to what they believed in when they pulled out the flag. Jost is queer.

The two said they had reserved tickets and arrived before DeSantis.

Their conversation with others at the event was cordial, and they described them as “very polite until we pulled out our flags,” Newsweekreports.

While DeSantis was beginning his speech, they stood up and pulled out large Pride flags from their perch near the stage.

Video online shows audience members, DeSantis staffers, and Jost and Sander wrestling as the governor’s supporters tried to snatch the rainbow flag away.

As the two were escorted out, audience members cheered, video of the incident shows.

"I remember when we held up the flag, someone grabbed me on the shoulder," Jost told the outlet. "I turned around, I'm being surrounded. They're shouting everywhere. People are yelling, 'Shame on you, shame on you' and trying to take it away from me.

"I felt someone grab me from behind and, like, multiple people were trying to push me to the ground. I got kicked; I actually have some small bruises. I'm glad I wore heavy pants."

DeSantis did not acknowledge the disruption until they were physically being pushed out of the room.

“Before you worry about our children,” DeSantis began saying. “And they shouldn’t be worrying about our children either,” he said, gesturing at the restrained demonstrators.

“We don’t want you indoctrinating our children,” DeSantis screamed. “Leave our kids alone!”

According to media outlet Florida Politics, some who grabbed the rainbow flag were Moms for Liberty members, the extremist anti-government group described by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group embraced some Adolf Hitler messages before distancing itself recently.

Jost said it was “such an excessive use of force.”

Bystanders kicked him, and he was “violently dragged downstairs,” Sander said.

“I’ve lived in this community since I was in second grade. I know several of them personally. I’ve spoken with them…like, it’s kind of horrifying to see how quickly you’re dehumanized,” Sander added.

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