Neo-Nazis have shown up again in Lakeland. On Saturday afternoon, a group of men riding around in a rented U-Haul pickup truck did a Nazi salute and threw antisemitic propaganda onto people’s lawns in neighborhoods between Edgewood Drive and Lake Hollingsworth Drive before being stopped by Lakeland police.
It is the second time in two and a half months that a group of people spouting neo-Nazi rhetoric have appeared in Lakeland. In December, a dozen neo-Nazis protested outside a benefit arts performance that included men in drag; their message was denounced by local faith leaders.
Valerie Morrow videotaped some of the neo-Nazi activity on Saturday. She contacted LkldNow and provided the video, saying she was on her way home from work when she got a phone call that masked men in a truck threw antisemitic literature onto lawns in their neighborhood off Edgewood Drive.
“My husband jumped into his Jeep and went after them,” Morrow said in a Facebook message. “They stopped and he asked what this BS (sorry) was about and they tried giving him this rhetoric about the Jewish people and he said F you and threw it at the guy in the jacket. The guy said F you back ‘You N—-r.’ And my husband left.”
That’s when Morrow decided to try to find them herself so she could get a license plate number. She spotted them on New Jersey Road and began videotaping them. When they spotted her, they did a Nazi salute after the truck turned onto Crystal Lake Drive and also began videotaping her.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, “Neo-Nazi groups share a hatred for Jews and a love for Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. While they also hate other minorities, gays and lesbians and even sometimes Christians, they perceive ‘the Jew’ as their cardinal enemy.”
SPLC’s “Hate Map” shows at least one white nationalist group based in Lakeland, “Will2Rise.” SPLC’s website tracked 733 hate groups in the United States in 2021, while 10 years earlier, there were 1,019.
LkldNow identified two men in the truck: Burt Colucci, 46, and Jon Minadeo II, 52.
Colucci, who has lived in Lakeland in the past, identifies himself as the “commander” of a neo-Nazi group called the National Socialist Movement, which is based in Kissimmee – where he told LkldNow last year that he lives. In Saturday’s video, he is seen in the back right of the truck, sitting next to Minadeo.
Colucci was arrested twice last year.
He appeared in an Arizona court in January to answer three charges, including one felony, related to a 2021 incident in which he is accused of pointing a firearm at Black men in a hotel parking lot.
Colucci has lived in at least two Lakeland addresses since 1997 but also has a listed residential address in Jonesboro, Ark., and currently claims he lives in Kissimmee, where the NSM has a post office box as its national headquarters.
Another man in the truck on Saturday, dressed in a bright blue suit, is Minadeo, the host of Goyim TV, who held a microphone with a “GTV” mic flag on Saturday. Goyim is a Yiddish word Jewish people use to describe non-Jewish people. He has been written about extensively for his neo-Nazi activities in California.
When the neo-Nazis turned onto Hollingsworth Oaks Drive, Minadeo threw a plastic bag with an antisemitic pamphlet in it onto the lawn of the first home. Their work on Saturday brought them within half a mile of Lakeland’s Temple Emanuel synagogue. Rabbi David Goldstein said he was unaware of the incident, but declined to comment further.
Several people sent LkldNow photos of plastic bags found on their lawns. Those pamphlets contain propaganda deriding Jewish people for owning major media corporations and that “every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish.”
Those bags also contained pellets. It was uncertain if they were pellets for a grill – possibly a subtle reference to the Holocaust, when bodies of Jews were burned in the ovens of concentration camps — or if they were rat poison pellets.
Minadeo and another man in a mask got out of the truck bed and approached Morrow, filming her as she filmed them.
“You can’t keep following us around like this. You’re harassing us,” the masked man said, showing her his pamphlet. “You know they’re all Jewish, right? They’re all Jewish. And we don’t like it. Gun control, immigration, media, COVID. They’re all Jewish. You’re not helping our cause.”
Then Minadeo approached the passenger side of her car.
“Hi – could you stop filming us please? It’s kind of weird,” he said. “We’re exercising our First Amendment. I’m sure you might have a dog in this fight, but if you’re Jewish, we recommend that you just tell on your people. Stopping hiding the truth, OK. Just tell on your Jewish people.”
According to a December article in The Jewish News of Northern California, Minadeo moved from the San Francisco Bay area to Florida and took “the functional headquarters and nerve center of the nation’s most prolific antisemitic propaganda group” with him.
“Jon Minadeo Jr., the leader of Goyim TV, announced the move in videos and social media posts this week, explaining that he had grown increasingly isolated in his hometown of Petaluma, and saw Florida as fertile ground for the hate group’s activities,” the article states. “The announcement came in a highly dramatic, Hollywood-style movie trailer replete with drone shots of the Florida coast, alligators and flamingoes. ‘My time in this state is over,’ Minadeo says in voiceover.
Morrow said she stopped videotaping, called the police and a Lakeland Police officer arrived quickly.
“The officer, a woman, told me, ‘I have this now’ in a very reassuring manner,” Morrow said. “I could hear her tell them, ‘This is a traffic stop now’ and heard the one guy in the blue jacket crying, ‘Why, why?’”
In February 2022, about 20 National Socialist Movement members hung swastika-adorned banners proclaiming “Vax the Jews” and promoting the Goyim Defense League’s GoyimTV platform on an I-4 overpass near an Orlando shopping center.
StopAntisemitism.org reported the rally was live streamed on neo-Nazi websites. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Colucci and Joshua Terrell of Indiana were charged with “battery evidencing prejudice after video showed the two attacking a Jewish man who confronted them as they shouted antisemitic slurs by Alafaya Trail and Waterford Lakes Parkway. The battery charges, normally first-degree misdemeanors, are being upgraded to third-degree felonies under Florida’s hate crime law.”
Mayor Bill Mutz, who is in Australia, texted a statement to LkldNow.
“Those who threaten others, as if they are superior to them, will ultimately be confronted by the reality that no person has more value than another,” Mutz wrote. “It simply reveals their own ignorance for which there is no appetite in a city that seeks to honor everyone.”
Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor said police are reviewing Saturday afternoon’s events to determine if anyone involved violated any state or city ordinances that would warrant criminal charges.
“I certainly condemn hateful or divisive ideologies promoted by any group,” Taylor said in a written statement. “My overriding concern is always the safety and security of this community while also ensuring that anyone can exercise their First Amendment rights permitted by law.”
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said his team is cooperating in the investigation.
“We became aware of the littering and we’re working with the Lakeland Police Departments,” Judd said. “Certainly we not only support people’s First Amendment rights, but we defend the First Amendment rights no matter how abhorrent the conduct — as long as it’s covered by the First Amendment. However, First Amendment rights does not give people the authorization to violate the law, and as a result of the information that was provided to the Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office, we are conducting an investigation.”
Correction: Jon Minadeo’s name was spelled incorrectly in an earlier version of this story.
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