Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said during an interview over the weekend that the state of Florida’s decision to push public universities to decertify student groups that expressed support for Hamas was not a First Amendment issue but rather an issue about violating laws related to providing material support to terrorist organizations.
DeSantis directed Ray Rodrigues, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, to send notices to the University of Florida and the University of South Florida notifying them that they must deactivate their chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) because they allegedly broke Florida laws about terrorism.
In response to the Palestinian Islamic terrorist attacks, “National Students for Justice in Palestine (National SJP) released a ‘toolkit’ which refers to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood as ‘the resistance’ and unequivocally states: ‘Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement,’” the letter said.
The letter noted that under Florida law, it is a felony to “knowingly provide material support . . . to a designated foreign terrorist organization. . .” Hamas is designated by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
DeSantis was asked during an interview with Kristen Welker on NBC News’ “Meet The Press” whether decertifying the groups constituted “cancel culture.”
“This is not cancel culture. This group, they themselves said in the aftermath of the Hamas attack, that they don’t just stand in solidarity that they are part of this Hamas movement,” he said. “And so you have a right to go out and demonstrate, but you can’t provide material support to terrorism. They’ve linked themselves to Hamas. And so we absolutely decertified them, they should not get one red cent of taxpayer dollars.”
“And we also have strong laws in Florida against fundraising for groups like Hamas, and we are enforcing those vigorously,” he added. “It’s not a First Amendment issue. That’s a material support to terrorism issue.”
When asked if he had any evidence that the group was providing material support for Hamas, DeSantis pointed to the group’s own words.
“Their own words are saying they’re part of this organization, that they don’t just stand in solidarity, that they don’t just support what they did, but that this is their movement, too,” he said. “So once you hitch your wagon to a group like Hamas, that takes you out of the realm of normal activity, and that’s something that we’re going to take action against. So we believe we’re totally justified within the law.”
“And I think things like this had been litigated time and again, but here’s the broader point: You know, are we just gonna commit suicide as a country and let groups metastasize who are openly siding with brutal terrorist organizations?” he concluded. “I don’t think that’s a recipe for a successful country. I want to have a country where we’re protected from that stuff. So I think we made the right decision I stand by it 100%.”
DESANTIS on deactivating student groups who pledged material support to Hamas:
"Are we just going to commit suicide as a country and let groups metastasize who are openly siding with brutal terrorist organizations? I don’t think that’s a recipe for a successful country….We made… pic.twitter.com/0dYlVclH1g
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) October 29, 2023