The head of the Anti-Defamation League says Occupy Wall Street is not doing enough to publicly condemn the hate speech that’s occasionally popped up in their camps.
The incidents are isolated: One man has been spotted at Zuccotti Park time after time, say protesters, holding a sign that reads “Hitler’s Bankers — Wall Street,” while shouting “Jews control Wall Street.”
A second sign, possibly from the same man, proclaims “Zionists Control Wall Street.”
At Occupy Los Angeles, a video surfaced of a woman saying, “I think the Zionist Jews who are running these big banks … need to be run out of this country.”
Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he has received many calls complaining about the signs.
Protesters at Zuccotti Park yesterday said they don’t support the anti-Semitic signs. Brendan Burke, a member of the de-escalation team, which protesters say is their non-violent security force, said he encourages protesters to simply ignore people with hateful messages.
“If someone walks around with a peace sign, that’s great,” said Burke. “If someone walks around with an anti-Semitic sign, they’ll sow their own fate. It’s free speech so I encourage everyone, when they see something like that, don’t be so instantly provoked by it.”
But Foxman wants to see the demonstrators do more. “The good people who are out there should speak out and condemn it and remove it,” he said.
“They should come down and speak out against it,” Burke said in response to Foxman. “We have a protest to run, so come on down.”
Council speaker on signs
Outspoken CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld expressed his concern about anti-Semitic signs at OWS to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Tuesday. “This type of hate speech is repugnant,” she said. “That said, sentiments by a few should not be allowed to overshadow the legitimate concerns of those protesting.”
Don’t force people out
Protesters said they don’t force those with anti-Semitic signs to leave, but stressed that they don’t support them. “We can’t force people to leave, everyone is welcome here,” said Nicholas Isabella, a 24-year-old Wall Street protester from Queens. He said protesters followed one man holding an anti-Semitic sign, with their own signs that read, “This guy is not with us.” “Eventually he left on his own,” he said.