Alleged KKK costume photo of DeSantis-backed officer sparks backlash from clergy

Faith leaders in Florida’s only black-majority county are demanding an explanation after a local official appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis resigned following controversy over a photo allegedly showing him in Ku Klux Klan attire.

Jeffery Moore, previously the only Republican on the five-member Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners, resigned Friday and is facing questions from local clergymen after a photo allegedly showing him in a KKK robe and hood emerged Tallahassee Democrat reported Tuesday. According to the paper, DeSantis is also facing backlash for appointing Moore to the position in July.

“People are upset,” said Gadsden County Commissioner Brenda Holt democrat. “I don’t know the history of this photo, but I do know that people depend on us in politics to do better. I worry young people will see that.”

Ron DeSantis at the press conference
Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor of Florida, during a news conference at the Broward County Courthouse August 18, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. DeSantis faces scrutiny after Jeffery Moore, whom he appointed to a county office, resigned amid controversy over a photo allegedly showing him in a KKK robe and hood.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A group of local clergymen plans to hold a press conference outside the Gadsden County Courthouse on Wednesday morning, the sources said democratwhere they will urge both DeSantis and Moore — who gave no reason for resignation in his resignation letter — to take ownership of the painting or reject it.

The offending photo obtained from the democrat, shows a smiling man, younger than Moore, stretching out his arms while clad in a peaked hood and white robe marked with what appear to be the insignia of the white supremacist group. In the background, a cardboard skeleton appears to be hanging on the wall. Others around him are holding drinks and appear to be wearing costumes, suggesting the photo was taken during a Halloween party.

Tracey Stallworth, a pastor who lives in Moore’s district, told the newspaper that although the photo “appears to be him,” she and other members of the clergy will seek an explanation.

“We deserve this,” Stallworth said, calling the incident “a sad time” for the county.

Located in the Florida Panhandle on the Georgia border, Gadsden County is 55 percent black according to census figures.

Moore, a Havana resident, is a former tax law specialist with the Florida Department of Treasury who also served as chair of the Gadsden Soil and Water Conservation District’s county committee, according to a DeSantis office press release announcing his appointment to a vacancy .

Earlier, Michael Ertel, who was appointed Secretary of State by DeSantis, resigned in 2019 after a year-old photo of him with a black face surfaced as a Halloween photo of a Hurricane Katrina victim.

news week reached out to the Moore and DeSantis offices for comment. Alleged KKK costume photo of DeSantis-backed officer sparks backlash from clergy

Rick Schindler

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