Florida agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried labeled Governor Ron DeSantis an “authoritarian dictator” after DeSantis proposed the re-creation of a state guard to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters.
DeSantis’s proposal would bring back the Florida State Guard, which was originally formed during World War II to support the National Guard while members served overseas. The State Guard was disbanded in 1947, but DeSantis proposed its reconstitution to deal with “state-specific emergencies.”
However, the proposal drew immediate condemnation from Fried, who labeled the guard a “paramilitary force” on Twitter. Fried, a Democrat, has announced that she will run against DeSantis in the 2022 Florida gubernatorial race.
“This is horrifying,” Fried said of the state guard proposal in an appearance on MSNBC’s The ReidOut on Friday. “He’s not only forming his own army, but that’s an army that’s not accountable to anybody.”
Fried added that “this should be alarming, not just to the people of our state, but the entire country that the Governor who is unhinged, who is going out of his way to show that he is an authoritarian dictator . . . believes that he is above the law.”
Fried concluded, “This should be the most alarming action and the most scary action he has taken during this administration.”
DeSantis announced the state guard proposal on Thursday at the Pensacola National Guard Armory, with his three-year-old son Mason standing and holding his hand. ReidOut host Joy Reid commented that DeSantis’s announcement “definitely had some Fidel kind of weirdness to it” and remarked that people are “starting” to call Florida “DeSantistan.”
States have the power to set up defense forces that do not fall under federal authority, and Florida would be the 23rd state with its own guard, according to a press release from DeSantis’s office. The volunteer force would consist of 200 people.