Florida attorney Daniel Uhlfelder has launched a tour of his state's beaches now that they have been reopened by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) after being shut down for several weeks in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.
But Uhlfelder's mission is not to catch some rays. He shows up dressed in a grim reaper costume to send a warning to beachgoers in protest of the reopening — and to raise money for Democrats.
What are the details?
Uhlfelder, an activist for public beach access in Florida, went viral on Friday after he was handed the microphone by a local television station during his "haunting" of Miramar Beach.
The attorney told the viewers of WMBB-TV that the message he is trying to send is that it is too soon to open beaches to the public because they are a draw to people from around the world. He argues that reopening now increases the risk of diminishing the progress Florida has made in fighting COVID-19.
Grim Reaper in Walton County www.youtube.com
As the video of the "grim reaper" made its way through the Twittersphere, a Democratic strategist pointed out that Uhlfelder's campaign was not only a protest of reopening the beaches, but an attempt to raise "$20,000 for Democrats for office in 2020."
CNN reported that Uhlfelder's beach tour is "also an effort to donate to the campaigns of Democratic candidates: Phil Ehr, running against incumbent Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R)...and Christy Smith (D), who's running against former Rep. Katie Hill's seat in California."
Uhlfelder is best known for attacking former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) — who owns a home in Walton County, Florida — online last year during a legal dispute over whether the beach in front of Huckabee's home was public or private. Huckabee filed a bar complaint against Uhlfelder, saying the lawyer crossed the line in his public harassment of Huckabee and his family, as reported by the ABA Journal.
In March of this year, Uhlfelder also sued Florida Gov. De Santis for failing to issue an order closing the state's beaches, which De Santis eventually issued on April 2, the Daily Mail reported.
NBC News reported that this isn't the first time Uhlfelder has pulled a stunt to get people off of beaches during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, the lawyer traveled Florida beaches wearing a paintball costume in an effort to promote social distancing.
He said one woman told him that he was "scaring people," to which he replied, "OK, that's good." He reasoned, "If people are scared, they they'll leave. I want to go back to normal as soon as possible, too, but opening our beaches too early is not the way to do this."