West Palm Beach approves new ordinance to help stop acts of hate

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 11:10 PM EDT
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City leaders in West Palm Beach have adopted a new ordinance to help combat the recent series of antisemitic acts.

Commissioners on Monday unanimously approved Ordinance No. 5035-23, which strengthens penalties for projecting offensive images on public and private buildings without the owner's consent.

Violators could face up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500.

The ordinance is in response to an incident two months ago when two men were caught displaying a swastika on the AT&T building downtown.

The newly approved ordinance would make projecting images on buildings a crime and streamline the process for property owners to file civil lawsuits against offenders.

During public comment, Jewish community members spoke in favor of the new ordinance but argued it was not enough to deter people from committing antisemitic acts.

"It's fragile, liberal and a repurposed bill that was not written for West Palm," said Ari Fixler, director of West Palm Beach's Amud Aish Holocaust Museum. "They took another bill from another state and repurposed it for here."

Last week, county officials passed a similar ordinance that comes with hefty fines.

First-time offenders will be forced to pay $1,000, and those caught again would be fined anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000.

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