San Antonio councilwoman condemns antisemitic sign at auto shop, the latest flare of hatred in the Alamo City
San Antonio Councilwoman Teri Castillo is condemning an antisemitic sign that had been displayed for days outside an auto repair shop in her district on the South Side.
The sign — which has been taken down — made light of the pain experienced by Jewish people under Nazi Germany, according to Castillo’s office.
“As we call attention to this hate speech, we feel it simultaneously necessary to extend a hand to our Jewish community members who may be struggling with recent instances of antisemitism in our city,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “We recognize that this hatred is inextricably tied to ideologies that not only attack Jewish people, but that ultimately make all of us feel less safe.”
A neo-Nazi group came to Texas from Florida last week and traveled through Austin and San Antonio. They left antisemitic flyers on lawns in the Churchill Estates and Deerfield neighborhoods. The group also set up a demonstration across from the Jewish Community Center as it held a Holocaust remembrance event. The group held signs with explicit photographs mocking the Jewish religion and denying the Holocaust. They used megaphones to intimidate drivers passing by.
The sign outside the South Side auto repair shop had been displayed prior to the neo-Nazi group’s arrival.
“We are incredibly grateful for our friends in the South Side who saw that sign and shared it with law enforcement and the media. And today, that sign doesn’t exist,” said Nammie Ichilov, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio. “When somebody sees something, say something. It’s what law enforcement best advises. It’s the way that we are able to address if something in the community is an insignificant individual’s message of hate or the beginnings of something a lot more dangerous.”
In Austin, the fire department asked the public to help identify a man in connection with an arson at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue earlier this week. The Austin Fire Department said the suspect, described as a white male with a "thin build [and] brown hair," was seen carrying a 5-gallon "jerry can," a military-style container typically used to carry gasoline, according to a flyer released Wednesday morning. The fire at the synagogue came after a rash of antisemitic incidents in the Austin area. It was not clear if the neo-Nazi group that visited San Antonio was directly connected to the fire.
In San Marcos, the police investigated antisemitic flyers left in the Willow Creek neighborhood. The materials come from the same neo-Nazi group that traveled through Austin and San Antonio last week. The Anti-Defamation League described the group as a loose network of thousands of online followers connected by their virulent antisemitism.
“We see these actions as attempts to normalize hate and to recruit and radicalize people in our community,” read a statement from the Corridor Interfaith Alliance For Families in response to recent events. “As people of faith, the scriptures common to Christian and Jewish believers as well as the teachings of other spiritual practices all tell us that in the face of evil, we must not be silent or afraid but instead shine a light on the acts of those who seek to do harm.”
An interfaith community gathering is being planned in San Antonio next week to show solidarity with the Jewish community.