The Grim Reaper has come to Florida’s newly reopened beaches, and he’s not happy.
The Spectre of Death — otherwise known, in this instance, as Walton County attorney Daniel Uhlfelder — roamed the beaches of Walton County Friday to bring attention to the potential dangers of reopening Florida’s beaches while COVID-19 cases continue to turn up around the state.
“I love our beautiful beaches. I want people to go back to work. I know that we as a state are heavily dependent on tourism,” Uhlfelder told Yahoo just after a jaunt around the beach. “But our government, and specifically our governor, does not have its priorities in the right place.”
His story rocketed around Twitter — we should end the euphemism “went viral,” right? — when he appeared on a local newscast Friday afternoon speaking directly to the camera and then looming behind the local correspondent like ... well, like the Angel of Death:
Uhlfelder wandered the beaches in a specially made linen suit — the one he bought from Wal-Mart was far too hot in the Florida sun — and drew a range of reactions, from laughter to disbelief to hostility.
“Some people were not very friendly,” Uhlfelder says, “but I’ve got thick skin. I’m a trial attorney.”
Uhlfelder is a second-generation Floridian, born in Tallahassee, with a law degree from the University of Florida and a practice in Walton County. Shortly after the pandemic broke out, Uhlfelder sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, demanding that the governor close Florida’s beaches. The suit was dismissed when a judge ruled that his court did not have sufficient standing to overrule the governor, but Uhlfelder plans to appeal.
In the meantime, though, he’s settled on the Grim Reaper role. “I wanted to do the right thing,” he says. “It’s taken off more than I imagined.” He says he’s received calls and tweets from all over the world thanking him.
“I’m doing this because nobody else is doing anything,” he says. “Florida is the third-largest state, with the largest population of susceptible individuals. Our governor has blood on his hands ... it’s a travesty.”
Uhlfelder has plans to travel the state, and along the way he’s raising money to contribute to Democrats running for Congress. As of Friday, his “Grim Reaper Tour” is hitting the road:
“I don’t know how long I’ll keep doing this,” he says, “but I’m not giving up. It’s a matter of life and death.”
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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