JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The City of Jacksonville has been plagued by several instances of antisemitism in the last week. While these messages are not the first of their kind on the First Coast, the most recent statement was made on Saturday night at the Georgia-Florida game.
The words 'Kanye is right about the Jews' were projected onto the back of a scoreboard at TIAA Bank Field. The same message was displayed on a building downtown, near the game day festivities. This is a reference to the antisemitic tweet and comments Kanye West earlier this month.
Many local and state leaders from both sides of the aisle have released statements condemning the message.
Jacksonville's Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted his response on Sunday morning:
"Jacksonville is a city made better because of its diversity. Those who spread messages of hate, racism and antisemitism will not be able to change the heart of this city or her people. I condemn these cowards and their cowardly messages."
Jacksonville City Council President Terrance Freeman also spoke out against the act:
"Hate has no place in our city. Jacksonville stands with our Jewish neighbors and against disgusting antisemitic rhetoric."
Additionally, the University of Florida and University of Georgia released a joint statement, following the incident during the game:
Notably, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has not yet responded to the antisemitic messages. He did attend the game on Saturday.
Before the incident at the rivalry game, several people were displaying large antisemitic banners on an overpass at I-10 and Chaffee Road.
The people standing with the banners could be seen performing what appeared to be the Nazi salute.
While these are the most recent and possibly most public displays of Jewish hate, antisemitic flyers have been found around the First Coast for months. The flyers even prompted Congressman Charlie Crist to call for an FBI investigation.
Seventeen Jewish leaders across Florida signed an open letter responding and calling for change.
Here is an excerpt from the letter:
"When Florida students are taught about the Shoah, they learn the phrase “Never Again.” After six million Jews were killed by Hitler and the Nazis, our people rebuilt with a dogged determination that it was on all of us – every day – to prevent another Holocaust.
“Never Again” means that we rip out the weeds of hate wherever they spring. From cowards who paint swastikas under the cover of night to celebrities with a global platform, we fight every single act of anti-Semitism because we all carry the generational trauma of knowing where it can lead.
Anti-Semitism left unchecked or ignored always leads to violence. This is why we are sounding the alarm. According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitism and violent extremism is on the rise in Florida."
You can read the letter in full here. The letter was posted on Congressman Crist's website, who is currently running for Florida governor.
Read the responses of more local and state leaders below: