Reporters and liberal activists were quick to label a vehicular incident at a Florida Pride parade as a "terrorist attack."
On Saturday, reports quickly emerged about a truck ramming into three participators of the pride parade in Wilton Manors, FL just outside of Fort Lauderdale. One individual was killed in the incident while others were left seriously injured. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., reportedly narrowly missed being hit while riding a convertible in the lineup.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis initially labelled the incident a "terrorist attack" on the LGBT community as well as an attack on Rep. Shultz prior to any investigation.
"This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community," Trantalis claimed "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."
Soon after, the mayor's claims were contradicted. The Gay Men Chorus’ President Justin Knight later confirmed in a statement that the driver of the truck was, in fact, a member of their group and, to his knowledge, not committing an attack.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the tragic accident that occurred when the Stonewall Pride Parade was just getting started," Knight wrote. "Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver was also a part of the Chorus family. To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community. We anticipate more details to follow and ask for the community’s love and support."
Nevertheless, reporters and online activists immediately shared the story as a terrorist attack upon the mayor’s initial statement. Reporters such as New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman and liberal writer Lesley Abravanel have posted and retweeted statements implying the truck was part of "domestic terrorism."
Local reporters were also quick to call the incident an attack or blame Governor Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., for the tragic sitaution. Peter Schorsch, the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, appeared to blame the Florida governor because of his anti-riot bill and his recent bills regarding transgender youth in sports. He later deleted his tweet.
The hashtag #DeathSantis also trended over Twitter as users blamed DeSantis, R-Fla., for the attack.
Several news outlets also initially reported the mayor’s assumption as facts including the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Notably, The Hill published an article titled "Mayor: Truck running into Pride parade was 'terrorist attack'" several hours after Knight’s official statement.
Despite more facts emerging from the incident, some activists and reporters were seen doubling down on their statements. Abravanel notably tweeted "the toxic environment created by the laws of a bigot like @GovRonDeSantis & the encouragement of Trump’s terror fueled Turd Reich regime & #GQP made it entirely plausible."
The Wilton Manors Police Department officially released a statement on Sunday confirming that the incident "was a tragic accident" and "not a criminal act directed at anyone, or group of individuals." No names have been released related to the incident.
Trantalis released a new statement after law enforcement announced the incident was an accident and not deliberate. In his new statement, the mayor doesn't address or retract his initial comments.