Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., was bashed by MSNBC host Joy Reid on Twitter, for warning potential criminals against looting the evacuated homes of Hurricane Ian survivors in Florida, linking his statements to racist cops and politicians of the segregation era. Joy Reid made comments about DeSantis warning looters and she herself was called a racebaiter who assumes looters must be Black people only.
The tweet by the host of MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” said that DeSantis telling people not to loot and warning they might be shot by gun-carrying Floridians had the same tone as “segregationist Miami sheriff Walter E. Headley” infamously saying, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” in the ’60s.
Reid’s tweet linked to an NPR article about the racist history, in addition to connecting it to vicious segregationists and anti-Black politicians such as Eugene “Bull” Conner. DeSantis’ words show he’s returned to that “form,” she also mentioned, said Fox News.
The issue was taken by Reid with the Florida governor’s recent press conference about the state of recovery in Florida after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian. The Florida governor mentioned his concerns in the presser, about potential looting that could happen in the absence of infrastructure.
“The other thing that we’re concerned about, particularly in those areas that were really hard hit, is, you know, we want to make sure we’re maintaining law and order,” he said. He stated, addressing would-be looters directly: “Don’t even think about looting. Don’t even think about taking advantage of people in this vulnerable situation.”
“Local law enforcement is involved and monitoring that,” DeSantis continued. “You can have people bringing boats into some of these islands and trying to ransack people’s homes,” he explained.
After that, he laid out his warning by saying: “I can tell you in the state of Florida, you never know what may be lurking behind somebody’s home. And I would not want to change that if I were you, given that we’re a Second Amendment state.”
Despite the fact that DeSantis merely warned about what the typical Floridian might do to home invaders and looters, Reid linked it to a racist threat from law enforcement in the ’60s.
“’When the looting starts, the shooting starts.’—segregationist Miami sheriff Walter E. Headley, 1967,” Reid tweeted, responding to the CBS News clip of DeSantis’ words.
“Didn’t take DeSantis long to return to form,” she added, and shared the 2020 NPR article, titled, “The History Behind ‘When The Looting Starts, The Shooting Starts.’”
That piece itself said the quote “dates back to the civil rights era and is known to have been invoked by a white police chief cracking down on protests and a segregationist politician.”
“In 1967, Miami police Chief Walter Headley used the phrase ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ during hearings about crime in the Florida city, invoking angry reactions from civil rights leaders, according to a news report at the time,” NPR also reported.
Headley, “he had a long history of bigotry against the black community,” according to Howard University professor Clarence Lusane.
Lusane’s claim was also featured in the piece, where she claims that “Headley may have borrowed the phrase from Eugene ‘Bull’ Connor, who had been the notorious public safety commissioner in Birmingham, Ala. Connor was a segregationist who directed the use of police dogs and fire hoses against black demonstrators.”