The mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, defended the wearing of Nazi-style Stars of David to protest mask mandates during a public meeting that also led to four arrests.
The second night of public hearings about a possible mask mandate in Alaska’s largest city descended into antisemitism on Wednesday when some community members showed up to the public meeting wearing yellow Stars of David with the words “Do not comply” written across them. The stars were in the style of those used by the Nazis in German-occupied Europe during World War II to identify Jewish people as part of the genocide of more than 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.
One Anchorage resident, Christine Hill, told the Anchorage Daily News she wore the star to draw a comparison between the atrocity of genocide and a mask mandate.
“We’re going down that same road, what’s happening now, taking more and more of our freedom away,” Hill told the publication. “And that’s what’s happening.”
That isn’t what’s happening, but it didn’t stop Mayor Dave Bronson from defending those in attendance who displayed the stars.
We referenced the Star of David quite a bit here tonight, but there was a formal message that came out within Jewish culture about that and the message was “never again.” That’s an ethos and that’s what that star really means: We will not forget, this will never happen again. And I think us borrowing that from them is actually a credit to them.
The message of “never again,” of course, is meant to apply to genocides, not to the wearing of masks to protect others from a deadly virus that has killed nearly 700,000 Americans.
Assembly member Forrest Dunbar, who is Jewish, read a letter he received from his rabbi, Abram Goodstein, during Wednesday’s meeting.
“It was heart-wrenching for me when I noticed individuals were wearing yellow Stars of David, mimicking my Jewish ancestors who perished during the Holocaust,” Dunbar read, quoting Goodstein. “For myself and most Jews, seeing the yellow Star of David on someone’s chest elicits the same feeling as seeing a swastika on a flag or the SS insignia on a uniform. It is a symbol of hate that reminds us Jews of the terror and horror we suffered. I believe it is a constitutional right to protest for your values. But I request that you do not use symbols that diminish the 6 million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.”
Later that night, a photographer for The Alaska Landmine took a photo of a man holding a Star of David and pointing at Dunbar.
Four people were arrested during Wednesday night’s public hearing, including a man who was carrying a gun. More from the Anchorage Daily News:
Within the first half hour Wednesday, two people were escorted from the chambers by police for creating disruptions. A man was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct and was also carrying a concealed gun, according to Anchorage Police Sgt. Ken Bushue. He also faces a charge of misconduct involving a weapon, according to an APD spokesman. A woman was charged with disorderly conduct, and two other men face trespassing charges.
Cases of COVID-19 continue to surge across Alaska, and on Monday Anchorage’s public health division manager resigned, leaving the post temporarily empty. That hasn’t stopped Bronson from continuing to cast doubt on measures that could save lives, including a vaccine mandate. As hospitals in Alaska continue to be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, Bronson said vaccine mandates were partly to blame for hospital care being stretched thin.
“The lingering pandemic, coupled with historically busy hospitals this time of year, as well as some employers forcing employees who chose not to be vaccinated to lose their jobs, have contributed to a staffing shortage,” Bronson said in a Facebook post Sunday.
A hospital representative told Alaska Public Media that Bronson’s claim is false. And while two of Anchorage’s largest hospitals have announced vaccine mandates, those mandates have not yet gone into effect.
In a 2013 article written by Bronson first uncovered by The Alaska Landmine, the current Anchorage mayor lauded Adolf Hitler as someone who “gave his countrymen hope for a better future,” comparing then-President Barack Obama to Hitler and other tyrants like Italy’s Benito Mussolini.
The assembly has not yet voted on the mask ordinance, and another public meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening.
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