Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the driver of a pickup truck drove into a crowd during a Pride Month parade, killing one person and injuring another. He narrowly missed a convertible that was carrying Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. We extend our sympathies and prayers for the victims and their families.
Sadly, even though the event was supposed to be promoting tolerance, Mayor Dean Trantalis immediately leapt to an intolerant conclusion, telling local media, “This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community. This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident. It was deliberate. It was premeditated, and it was targeted against a specific person. Luckily, they missed that person, but unfortunately, they hit two other people."
That false impression quickly spread, sparking denunciations of Gov. DeSantis and other conservatives. But Trantalis backed down after experiencing a swift backlash. It was reported that if he’d just waited 15 minutes before making his false accusation, he would have seen that the driver being arrested was wearing a Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus T-shirt. Both he and the victims were involved with the chorus. The driver was reportedly a 77-year-old man whose ailments prevented him from walking, so they let him drive the lead vehicle, and it suddenly accelerated. So it was not deliberate, premeditated or targeted. It was an accident.
It’s also a tragic reminder of the wise old saying, “Make sure your brain is in gear before engaging your mouth.”