COBB COUNTY, Ga. — NOTE: This story has been updated with a statement from the Chabad of Cobb County.
Channel 2 Action News received dozens of calls and social media reports about protesters outside of the Chabad of Cobb County Saturday evening.
Tonight, we are hearing from people in the Jewish community about how acts like these and other forms of discrimination are growing at disturbing levels.
“This was the most frightening thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” said Chabad of Cobb County member Stewart Levy.
The words, signs, and signals from a dozen antisemitic protesters along Lower Roswell Road were shouted as Shabbat services were wrapping up at the Chabad of Cobb County Saturday evening. It was not soon after that those in the community also began to voice their outrage.
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
“Exercising our first amendment right,” said protester John Minadeo II.
The Anti-Defamation League warned Friday about an antisemitic group participating in a tour of Georgia this weekend. Cobb County police were there and called the protest peaceful, even as protesters and people who live in the neighborhood came toe to toe shouting in each other’s faces.
“I am shocked absolutely shocked to see this here. When I see the amount of ignorance out there and some of the truths that they are promoting, it is just frightening the level of inaccurate knowledge that there is,” said Levy.
Incidents like this are happening more often. Channel 2 Action News has covered multiple instances of antisemitic fliers dropped in neighborhoods around the metro over the past several months.
“This is part of a disturbing trend that we have seen on the rise for over five years now. From 2021 to 2022, we saw more than 60% increase in antisemitic incidents in the state of Georgia. Nationally, we are seeing antisemitic incidents at an all-time record high in 2022,” said Anti-Defamation League Southeast Regional Director Eytan Davidson.
- 7 gang members convicted of breaking into 50 cars across Cherokee County
- 2 women arrested after man stabbed overnight in midtown Atlanta, police say
- Neighbors thought they were paying their taxes. Deputies say the Spalding clerk was stealing them
“The reason everybody should care about this is because this is not something that is just affecting the Jewish community. This is something that is affecting all communities right now. When you look at the data hate is on the rise against every single group in this country. So, what this group is doing is expressly antisemitic. It never stops with antisemitism, unfortunately, and we are seeing that reflected in the data with hate incidents and hate crimes at all-time highs, unfortunately,” said Davidson.
Earlier this year, State Representative Esther Panitch tried to push through legislation that would define antisemitism and make the use of Nazi imagery to terrorize someone a crime.
She responded to the protesters saying, “Once again, white supremacists have shown themselves to be the bottom-feeding haters they have always been, not contributing to society but only seeking to destroy. Protesting on the Sabbath at a synagogue and summer camp for Jewish children could not be viler. Thank G-d for community members of all faiths coming together to shine a light to disperse the hate. Together Georgians will win over this darkness. Please do not engage with these unhinged maniacs, as they are obviously unwell.”
The Chabad of Cobb County released the following statement to Channel 2 Action News:
We are extremely appreciative and thankful for the outpouring of support and concern from all segments of the community. We have been in communication with Cobb County officials, who have identified these individuals as part of a small group that travel around the country in order to spread their hateful message.
East Cobb has been a wonderful home to a flourishing Jewish community for many years. These individuals do not represent the sentiments of the citizens of East Cobb.
We are working closely with Cobb County officials and the Police Department to ensure the security and safety of our campus. There is no threat whatsoever at this time.
Ultimately, we must remember that the most potent response to darkness is to increase in light. Let’s use this unfortunate incident to increase in acts of goodness and kindness, Jewish pride, and greater Jewish engagement.
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]
Gov. Brian Kemp said in a tweet posted to Twitter, that there is absolutely no place for hate and antisemitism in Georgia.
IN OTHER NEWS:
©2022 Cox Media Group