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Rick Scott issues mocking travel advisory warning the state is ‘openly hostile toward socialists’

Florida Senator Rick ScottChip Somodevilla/Getty

Florida Senator Rick Scott issued a mocking response on Tuesday to recent warnings by civil rights organizations not to travel to the state with an advisory discouraging socialists from visiting.

Scott, a Republican who previously served as governor of Florida, said in a press release that the state is “openly hostile” toward groups like socialists and communists and “devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by Socialists and others who work in the Biden Administration.”

“Let me be clear — any attempts to spread the oppression and poverty that Socialism always brings will be rebuffed by the people of Florida,” he said. “Travelers should be aware that attempts to spread Socialism in north Florida will fail and be met with laughter and mockery.”


“The situation is far more dangerous” for socialists in “much of Central and South Florida,” he added.

His statement came in response to a range of social justice and civil rights groups, including the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Human Rights Campaign, and Equality Florida — issuing declarations that Florida is unsafe for people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The statement used similar language to the NAACP’s advisory, which was issued on Saturday, and appeared to deride its concerns.

The NAACP issued the advisory “in direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.”

“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP said. “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”

With legislation set to take effect that imposes harsh penalties and new restrictions on undocumented immigrants in the state, LULAC recently warned “Latinos traveling in Florida with family to be cautious if they encounter law enforcement.”


On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group, announced it was partnering with Equality Florida to issue an updated travel advisory. HRC cited several bills that have been passed by the state Legislature, nearly all of which DeSantis has signed into law.

“The travel advisory outlines the devastating impacts of laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety policies, foment racial prejudice, and attack public education by banning books and censoring curriculum in order that prospective travelers or residents can make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” HRC and Equality Florida said.

After Scott released his advisory, he received criticism online from activists including Nina Turner, who said the “right wing is getting extremely comfortable with threatening people.”

“Scott attempts to troll the NAACP for issuing a travel advisory cautioning Black people to be careful in his state. Yet instead he ends up proving their point,” said Adam Cohen, an attorney.

Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.