Ron DeSantis Wants His Own State Militia

One that would “not be encumbered to the federal government,” and would instead answer to him.

Dec 3 2021, 6:16pm

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to bring back a World War II-era state guard that would “not be encumbered to the federal government” and instead would be answerable to him. 

DeSantis made the pitch Thursday as part of a $100 million-plus “military budget” proposal that largely includes Florida’s National Guard. But as part of that budget, DeSantis is seeking $3.5 million to re-establish the Florida State Guard, a force of up to 200 volunteers whom DeSantis said would support the Florida National Guard in “state-specific emergencies” such as “emergency response efforts in the event of a hurricane, natural disasters, and other state emergencies.” 

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“We also want to make sure we have the flexibility and ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible,” DeSantis said at a press conference, adding that he thinks the guard is needed for support that is “not encumbered by the federal government and don’t require federal government.” 

The original Florida state guard, the Florida Defense Force, was established in 1941 to defend the state during World War II after the federal government federalized the state National Guards and deployed them overseas. It was renamed the Florida State Guard in 1943 and then disbanded in 1947 after the war ended.

Nearly two dozen states have active state guards, including California, New York, and Texas. But some state guards have previously been a hotbed of far-right extremism. 

In 1987, Utah Gov. Norman Bangerter “dismantled and reorganized” the Utah State Guard from more than 400 people to fewer than three dozen, after a review found the force included “convicted felons, mental cases, and neo-Nazis.” One member was found to have traveled to Idaho to train members of the Aryan Nation in combat. 

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In 1990, the Virginia General Assembly launched an investigation into the Virginia Defense Force after reports that members were practicing drug raids and saving money to buy a tank. “We were getting complaints,” former Virginia Del. Gladys Keating told the Nation in 1991. “We had one guy walking around thinking he was a reincarnation of Patton.”

Florida Democrats denounced DeSantis’s call to bring back the Florida State Guard.

“No Governor should have his own handpicked secret police,” Rep. Charlie Crist, a former Florida Republican governor now making another run as a Democrat, said in a Thursday tweet.

An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.

“Can't believe I have to say this, but Florida doesn't need a paramilitary force that only answers to @RonDeSantisFL,” Nikki Fried, the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture who’s also running for governor, tweeted Thursday. 

“Millions of Floridians know what it's like to live under regimes like this — and came to our state to escape them,” Fried added. “This must be stopped.”

An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.

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Tagged:

Florida, Charlie Crist, florida national guard

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