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IMMINENT WARNING: PROTESTORS AT DISNEY WORLD DISPLAYING NAZI FLAGS DURING PRIDE MONTH 2023

June 11, 2023

Lydia Baccino, Hae Lim Park, NORTHCOM & Extremism Team

Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor


Disney World in Orlando, Florida[1]


Event: Saturday afternoon saw protestors gathering outside Disney World in Orlando, Florida displaying Nazi memorabilia including flags and posters. Protestors also displayed posters of support for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 presidential nomination. This protest comes after a year-long battle when Disney spoke openly against the passing of the highly controversial bill “Don’t Say Gay'' by DeSantis. Tensions escalated as DeSantis tried to limit the self-governing powers of Disney while threatening further measures.[2] The feud between the two has been adopted with far-right organizations who have created smear attacks against Disney and the LGBTQ+ community, labeling them as “groomers'' and “pedophiles.” Further legislation discriminating against and limiting the rights of LGBTQ+ in Florida, like the Parental Rights in Education Act, have been endorsed by DeSantis, with similar bills being incorporated by other state legislatures and governors across the States.[3]


Significance: The protest outside Disney World was almost certainly directed at the LGBTQ+ community, with it likely happening as a larger number of visitors from the LGBTQ+ community will be visiting the park during Disney’s Pride Month celebrations. Posters showing support for DeSantis and the Don’t Say Gay Bill will likely incite fear among LGBTQ+ people towards lawmakers and supporters of anti-LGBTQ+ laws. It is highly probable that these protests will escalate as they continue to grow due to lack of law enforcement response. Disney World will likely issue warnings relating to the protests to warn visitors of the hateful content being displayed. Because of Disney's public support of the LGTBQ+ community and its planned Pride Month celebrations, it is very likely that protests will occur at other Disney parks in the US. Disney holds “Gay Days” which run the first week of June and then throughout the month and as these dates are made public, the park is likely to see further protests on these specific days. Increased travel warnings to Florida will likely be issued to the LGBTQ+ community to protect themselves from the restrictive and discriminatory laws and any violence likely to break out. The new laws and the current protests in Florida will also likely create a breeding ground for anti-LGBTQ+ activists and extremist groups, initiating a cue for further hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community. This hostility will likely escalate to larger violent protests and attacks throughout Florida and the US, likely organized via social media platforms. Encrypted messages and code words will likely be used by extremist groups and anti-LGBTQ+ activists on social media platforms to make it difficult to be detected by law enforcement. The interconnectivity of the extremist community online creates a high probability that anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment will transpire to other far-right organizations around the world, making protests likely at non-US Disney locations. Governor DeSantis will very likely take advantage of this ongoing situation and speak more publicly about his anti-LGBTQ+ views as he will almost certainly see this as an opportunity to gain more support in the run up to the 2024 presidential elections.


Recommendations

  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends there be a strong law enforcement presence at the entrance to Disney World, where the protest is taking place. This presence would act as a deterrent for further protests and for the current protest to escalate to violence.

  • CTG recommends that any travel warnings already issued relating to Florida be updated to include the protests at Disney World in order to warn further visitors and members of the LGBTQ+ community wanting to visit and join Pride Month celebrations.

  • CTG recommends the monitoring of social media and other online chat rooms to any posts relating to this protest and any chatter about further protests as there will likely be additional protests at Disney properties. Disney properties will likely attract supporters of Governor Desantis and anyone who is against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

  • CTG recommends law enforcement officials should also continue to monitor for any planned protests and attacks during the upcoming 2024 presidential election campaigns. Campaign locations will likely become hotspots for protests, likely escalating into violent clashes between protestors or law enforcement officials.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone 202-643-2848 or email info@counterterrorismgroup.com

 

[2] Protesters carrying Nazi flags and DeSantis imagery gathered outside Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Business Insider, June 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/protesters-nazi-flags-desantis-posters-outside-disney-world-2023-6?r=US&IR=T

[3] DeSantis v Disney: Why Florida’s governor is at war with the Mouse, The Independent, May 2023, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/disney-vs-desantis-feud-florida-b2346425.html

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