Times Of Israel.com By TOI staff Fri., Mar. 06, 2020
A suspected white nationalist unfurled a nazi flag at a Bernie Sanders rally in Arizona late Thursday, before it was pulled down by other members of the crowd and he was thrown out of the building by security.
In video from the scene, the crowd can be seen cheering as Sanders takes the stage. The man then unfurls the swastika banner. Jeers erupt as those around him notice the Nazi flag and rip it down. Security officers then escorted him out the building.
One attendee at the rally told Buzzfeed that the man shouted anti-Jewish slurs at Sanders and gave the Nazi salute.
Apparently, Sanders did not see the flag in real time. But his spokesman, Mike Casca, told Buzzfeed that: “The senator is aware of the flag with the swastika on it and is disturbed by it.”
Video shows Sanders appeared to smile when he saw the man being escorted out, saying: “Whoever it was, I think they are a little outnumbered tonight.”
“And more importantly they are going to be outnumbered in November,” he said.
“It was absolutely wild,” campaign surrogate Brianna Westbrook told the Washington Post. “I never thought I would have seen a swastika at a political event. It’s gross.”
“It really wakes you up and you see how bad things really are and the climate that we’re in,” she said.
The Anti-Defamation League called the incident a new level of depravity.
“Targeting a Jewish candidate with a Nazi flag represents a new level of depravity. There is no place for hate in politics. Disagree on issues, but all good people should flat out reject this kind of poison when it appears in the 2020 race,” tweeted CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
The progressive Jewish activist group IfNotNow called it an act of anti-Semitism.
“All people of conscience must condemn this antisemitism against the most visible Jewish politician in the country,” they tweeted.
The banner was apparently unfurled by Robert Sterkesun, a white nationalist with a long history of disrupting Muslim events.
There were several other disturbances and scuffles at the rally, including another man who was ejected by police after unfurling a pro-Trump banner.
Many on social media called for security to be stepped up for Sanders.