ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There was a powerful show of support for the Florida Holocaust Museum, one week after someone spray-painted swastikas and antisemitic messages outside the museum.
More than 200 people rallied to “Unite Against Hate” in downtown St. Petersburg.
“Antisemitism is a disease,” said Toni Rinde, a Holocaust survivor. “Hate is its partner that once and for all must stop.”
Rinde knows the horrors of the Holocaust firsthand. She spent more than a year with her parents hiding in basements, barns and attics across Poland.
Rinde was three years old when she went to live with a stranger, it was the only option her parents saw for survival. Eventually, she found safe haven in the United States.
Rinde told the crowd she initially cried after hearing about the hate-fueled graffiti left on the exterior of the museum
“Then I said no, now is not the time for tears,” said Rinde. “That is exactly what those despicable people want. They want to create fear. They want to create panic.”
St. Pete Police detectives are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Micah Shull said it was important to attend Thursday’s rally with his parents.
“I wanted to do something that, you know, shows solidarity with my fellow Jews and everyone who is opposed to this type of hate,” said Shull. “It was nice to see other people coming together and just saying that we’re not going to tolerate this anymore.”
The hate crime caught the attention of the White House.
Senior Advisor to the President, Cedric Richmond, sent a letter to the museum, which was read aloud during the rally.
It reads in part, “On behalf of President Joe Biden, I want to extend our deepest condolences for the recent vandalization of the Florida Holocaust Museum and to express our solidarity with you against this hateful act. As the president has said, the recent surge in antisemitic attacks is despicable, and it must end immediately.”
YOU CAN READ THE FULL LETTER BELOW:
The Anti-Defamation League reports an uptick in hate crimes against Jewish people during the military conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. reported to ADL increased by 75 percent compared to the two weeks before the fighting began, from 127 to 222, according to preliminary data.