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Unity rally to fight antisemitism in Jacksonville

The group OneJax organized a rally and vigil to show support for the Jewish community in Northeast Florida.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The community came out to support the Jewish population of Jacksonville after hateful messages popped up in our area over the past week, including the night of the Georgia-Florida game.

Thursday night there was a unity rally and vigil at James Weldon Johnson park. The message of the rally was clear: hate has no place here.

The interfaith group OneJax sponsored the rally and vigil to show support for the Jewish community in Northeast Florida and to condemn hateful rhetoric that was displayed towards them.

"One thing that keeps me awake at night, the ideas that used to be whispered in the shadows are now openly shared and we never want to normalize that," said OneJax executive director Kyle Reese.

The unity rally was held in James Weldon Johnson park, a park that saw African Americans beaten with axe handles during a sit-in in 1960.

"We have a history of racism that we continue to combat and struggle against, we have citizens that are part of hate groups," said Reese, who also believes that a vast majority of people inn Jacksonville have changed over the decades and that many more continue to live with an open mind.

"The average person, I believe, wants to do what's right, wants to support their neighbor and wants to live in a place where they feel supported," said Reese. "Tonight's as much a picture of what we want the future to look like as much as it is what's happening in the present."

In the crowd at the rally was new UNF President Dr. Moaz Limayem. While Dr. Limayem is relatively new to his position he wanted to show support for members of our community who were hurt by recent antisemitic messages. Dr. Limayem also stressed that UNF is inclusive and welcoming to all.

There were multiple speakers at the OneJax Unity rally including civil rights advocate Ben Frazier of the Northside Coalition. Frazier's message to those in attendance centered around a prayer for the Bold New City of the South that everyone can work together to move away from hate.

Thursday afternoon Jacksonville businessman David Miller made a $1 million donation to start the "Together Strong Community Fund", which will battle against bias in Jacksonville in the wake of the recent hate speech.

RELATED: Report: Police confronted head of antisemitic organization the day before Georgia-Florida game

RELATED: Jewish businessman responds to antisemitism with $1 million fund to combat root causes of bias

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