Officials in the Jacksonville, Florida area condemned several anti-Semitic messages that appeared in public spaces over the weekend, including a football stadium, an overpass and a downtown building.
An anti-Semitic message referencing rapper Kanye West was seen paraded outside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville during the Georgia-Florida college football game on Saturday, according to video shot by a relative of Vic Micolucci, a reporter for the affiliate. from CNN WJXT.
In the videothe words “Kanye is right about the Jews” parade outside the stadium structure, referring to recent anti-Semitic comments by rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West.
CNN has reached out to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and TIAA Bank Field for comment.
It is unclear how the message was projected onto the stadium wall. It is also unclear how long the message was visible outside the stadium.
In other videos circulating on social media, the same message was also seen on at least one Jacksonville building Saturday night.
And on Friday, banners were also visible from an overpass on Interstate 10 in Jacksonville, according to a tweet from a local reporter. They were also referenced in a statement by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
The banners read “End Jewish Supremacy in America” and “Sound your horn if you know it’s the Jews.”
The language in the scrolling messages in Jacksonville mirrors the banners that were hung from a freeway overpass in Los Angeles last weekend by a group appearing to give Nazi salutes.
Several officials condemned the posts in statements Sunday morning.
“The first step is to make sure we don’t normalize this behavior,” Fried said. “Don’t normalize anti-Semitic messages over a highway, or anywhere else.”
The Jewish Federation and Foundation of Northeast Florida has “condemned and is outraged” by the multiple anti-Semitic events.
“We are turning our outrage into positive action. The Jewish Federation and Foundation have been in communication with the FBI, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office. We will continue to work with them to keep our community safe and secure,” the group said in a statement.
“The rhetoric we have seen and heard over the past few weeks is troubling and a scaremongering tactic. However, our biggest concern is that even one person will see this as a call to action and repeat what we saw in Pittsburgh exactly four years ago this weekend,” the Federation said.
Pittsburgh was the site of the deadliest attack by Jews on American soil, when on the morning of October 27, 2018, a man stormed the Tree of Life Synagogue and killed 11 people.
U.S. Representative John Rutherford, whose district includes Jacksonville, said in a statement on Twitter“There is absolutely no place for this kind of hate in Florida. I continue to support the Jewish community in Jacksonville and across the country.”
In a tweet Sunday morning, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says the city is made better because of its diversity.
“Those who spread messages of hate, racism and anti-Semitism will not be able to change the heart of this city or its people,” Curry wrote in the tweet. “I condemn these cowards and their cowardly messages.”
The University of Georgia and the University of Florida jointly released a statement condemning the posts.
“We strongly condemn the anti-Semitic hate speech projected outside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville following the Florida-Georgia football game on Saturday night and the other anti-Semitic messages that appeared in Jacksonville.
“The University of Florida and the University of Georgia together denounce these acts and all acts of anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred and intolerance. We are proud to be home to strong and thriving Jewish communities at UGA and UF, and we stand united against hate,” the statement read.
West appeared in a rambling 16-minute video shared by WmgLab Records on YouTube on Saturday, in which he didn’t apologize for his anti-Semitic remarks but appeared to try to distance himself from any “hate groups.”
“I have no association with any hate group,” West said, closing his remarks with prayer. “If a hate happens to a Jewish person, it is not associated (waves to himself) because I demand that everyone walks in love.”
NFL owners have also weighed in on the recent wave of anti-Semitism. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan said he was “really upset by all this anti-Semitic rhetoric around Florida and Georgia.”
“This is not the Jacksonville that I know and love, and we all have to work together to absolutely put a stop to it. So let’s stop this,” he said before the Jaguars game against the Broncos. from Denver to London.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is Jewish, released a statement Sunday condemning anti-Jewish hatred.
“We need to do more to make people aware that anti-Semitism is a growing threat against Jews on social media and in communities across the country,” Kraft said. “I have committed enormous resources to this effort and I promise to do more. I encourage others to join these efforts. I hope this publicity continues to enhance the national conversation about the need for to denounce hatred of all kinds, and in particular to oppose Jewish hatred.
Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States have been on the rise for years, with 941 incidents in 2015 and 2,717 tracked in 2021 by the Anti-Defamation League.
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