A local group was disheartened by the “Unite The Right” protest and violence that resulted in Charlottesville, Virginia Saturday.
“My reaction was just dismay, disgust and horror,” said Susan Katz, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Peoria. “To see neo-Nazis and white supremacists converge upon Charlottesville brought back things we used to see when the KKK would march through towns and the Nazis; and the flags and the signs and the language and the hate.”
Protestors descended upon the Charlottesville town, many of them waving flags bearing the swastika on Saturday.
“It was horrible and yet we know there are anti-Semitic acts going on in this country every day,” Katz said. “There are swastikas being painted on schools and bridges every day and it’s not new.”
Katz says the Jewish Federation of Peoria hasn’t received any recent threats from the local community. She says central Illinois has been welcoming.
“But it’s not just over there,” Katz said, speaking about the weekend’s protest. “It’s everywhere and it is every person’s responsibility to speak against it and to stand for what’s right.”
Katz says the federation sends its condolences to the families of those who died at the rally.
When asked how she’d recommend parents speak with their kids about the violence, Katz recommended “encourage people to tell them about what happened when people didn’t speak out and how it’s incumbent on everyone to speak out. And when you see someone different than yourself, get to know them.”
She wishes the injured a speedy recovery.
Katz says no one in the local Jewish community has brought up concerns for their safety following the incident.